Defining Public History: a Collaborative Process

As Public History continues to gain recognition around the world, the responsibility of the International Federation for Public History to function as the primary platform for facilitating ideas of approach and best practice becomes increasingly significant. The idea of an International Public History is alluring because it recognises that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to conducting public history. This means that practitioners are not restricted to narrow definitions and highly streamlined methods. With the high rate of growth and change that International Public History is experiencing however, such a broad discourse has the potential to lead to ambiguity and loss of coherence when it comes to approach and understanding of best practice. The aim of this project is to evaluate how the IFPH can comprehensively facilitate approaches, philosophies, and best practices to practitioners around the globe, without reducing the discourse to the confines of national identity and borders, or restricting the field to existing national definitions of public history that were borne from specific conditions experienced by individual countries.

How to Participate?

In order to open a space for discussion about the different definitions and approaches of public history, we (see the members of the team below) created this Google Document with two possible ways for you to engage. 

1 ) How to write your views of public history.

.a. ) Either send us an email to to request access for editing the docuemnt. Once we provide you with access, you will be able to edit the document.

.b ) Write your text as suggestions on the document, and we will later accept it.

.c ) Comment on what others write. 

2 ) What to write?

-We are less interested in a strict, short, definition of public history, and more in an explanation of your understanding/approach. Or perhaps present what you think the main issues/objectives of public history currently are/will be.

The objective is also for different entries (i.e your input) to connect and discuss with each others. We are curious to see if some national/regional traditions would emerge from the discussion, so please try to give some details about your geographic area and/or fields (museums, archives, journalism…).

There is no requirement in terms of length, although we think that entries should be short enough to allow discussion (we are not asking for articles!).  

3 ) End Product

Instead of providing a strict definition of public history, we want to use these discussions to show how public history can be differently understood and practiced. We hope to be able to use the Google Document on the website of the International Federation for Public History.

4 ) Who we are? 

Thomas Cauvin (USA/France) / Catherine Brice (France) / Michel Kobelinski (Brazil) / Camilo Murcia Galindo (Colombia) / Anna Adamek (Canada) / Joanna Wojdon (Poland) / Patricia Hansen (Portugal) / Corin Sweeny Deinhart (USA/Italy) / Catalina Munoz (Colombia) / Matteo Di Legge and Gabriele Sorrentino, Elisa Malvestito (Italy) / Pedro Terres (Brazil)

Access the document here


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search