OHR editorial team members Dave, Abby, and Janneken are heading to Hartford, Connecticut for the annual meeting of the National Council on Public History to participate in conversations about publishing in the field of public history. Here, Abby gives a preview. We hope to see you there!
By Abigail Perkiss
Next week, at the annual meeting of the National Council on Public History, historians will come together to consider the complicated work of repair.
The enterprise of public history, write conference organizers, has long been tied to acts of repair: “We restore and preserve objects and buildings. We reconstruct fragmentary evidence about the past and reconsider the stories it has been used to tell, including stories about past commemorations themselves. We contribute, directly or indirectly, to economic and civic revitalization efforts. Increasingly, we also align our work with social and environmental projects of reparation, putting ourselves in service of overcoming or resisting the effects of past damage, injustice, and exclusion.”
Oral history occupies a particular space in this reparative process, bringing together narrators and interviewers in a collaborative act of reconstruction. Through the interview process itself, participants contemplate individual and collective pasts, integrating historical reflection and contemporary contexts to create a new, dynamic memory of what has come before. And, through the adoption of new technologies and points of access, oral historians bring those narratives to a public-facing audience, reshaping our broader understanding of longstanding historical events and recasting notions of the links between past and present.
As a community of scholars, we come together to reflect on these practices and processes. One of our aims at the Oral History Review is to offer space for such conversations and contemplations, both in the pages of the journal and here on this blog.
To that end, the OHR editorial team will join editors Nicole Belolan and Sara Case of The Public Historian for a structured conversation on publishing in public and oral history. Join us in Hartford next Friday at 10:30 am to discuss the aims and missions of the two journals, and the opportunities that exist in each to engage critically with these questions of repair work.
View the full program here.