One of the strengths of the Public History Weekly blogjournal is that it provides an international forum for tackling fundamental issues and concepts. Public history publications often focus on the individual case study, bringing out the rich detail of projects and the collaborations involved. There has been until recently less interest in wider conversations about the place, status and identity of public history and the concepts with which we work.
The blogjournal is a promising new platform for academic publishing, one that can provide a ‘live’ space for such conversations to happen. Serious questions can be raised and discussed, perhaps not in real time, but not far off it in academic terms. An animated, ambitious global community of enquiry is just what public history needs right now. Or, rather, a community of enquiry about history’s ‘public purpose’ is just what the broader historical discipline needs.
Which is why I chose to work with the idea of ‘academic citizenship’. ‘Public purpose’ is all too easily cast as separate from or marginal to the core business of historical scholarship. Can we instead think of it as one expression of our citizenship, our belonging in the world of history? Can we view it as one way of practising as a historian, and one that many may experience at some point over the course of a career, rather than the domain of a few, to whom ‘proper’ scholars outsource their obligations?
The territory of ‘academic’ and ‘public’ history is less clearly divided than this picture suggests, but I hope the post serves the blogjournal’s purpose of provoking some productive debate. You can read and comment on the full post here: