Posts

Affective Practices and the Trauma of Ordinary and Extraordinary Life

Image
I've been doing some more reading in this great book  in which I had the chance to include a chapter.

It's made me want to generalize a little about emotion and affect in heritage -- to take some lessons away from the work I did for the book and try to apply it more generally.

I see it this way:

Affective practices simply refuse to be contained within binary frameworks like before/after, war/peace, public/private and us/them and insist on the traces that link ordinary and everyday experiences to histories of conflict. Bodies interrupt discourses as well as participate in them. Visitors, bystanders and participants in heritage practices may confirm, deny or, in this case, simply complicate the goals of heritage in the present. 
My work here was in post-conflict societies.  Many post-conflict heritage projects aim to explore and expunge emotional burdens associated with histories and heritages shaped by conflict and forged in violence. But I really think that we need projects t…

Derry City Book news!

Image
Very excited to share the catalogue info for Derry City!

The book traces the social and cultural history of Catholic and nationalist Derry from the end of the 19th century to the 1960s through the lens of memory and thus explores how engagements with memory can help us better understand history.

When they were producing formal historical accounts, local chronicles, telling ghost stories and transmitting folklore, staging commemorative activities, performing engagements with the past, leaving traces on the cityscape, preserving material culture and more, Derry's residents charted contemporary experiences just as much as they reflected on historical events. This book investigates and contextualizes these dances with the past in order to illuminate little-known aspects of Derry in the years before Partition and during the decades that saw Catholics and nationalists negotiate the challenges of being seen as a "suspicious minority" in Northern Ireland even as they grappled w…

Come Talk To Me About Public History!

Image
I'll be hanging out on Saturday ready to talk public history with you!  Come see me.........

Why Public History?

Image
When you search Google for a definition of public history, this is one of the first things to pop up.

My own definition of public history is very different from the one proffered in that piece.  Public history, as far as I am concerned, is not a bridge between academic history and the public.  It is not simply history for public audiences.  The field, in fact, is somewhat split between those who see public history as primarily public-facing and those who see it as, first and foremost, public-engaging.  There is no animosity between practitioners with these different orientations, at least not that I am aware of. Me?  Public-engaging all the way.  More fun, more interesting and for me, more meaningful.

Discussing Interpreting LGBT History at Museums and Historic Sites

I really like teaching Susan Ferentinos' book Interpreting LGBT History at Museums and Historic Sites.  I like the "primer" nature on the history of sexuality and and how historiography meets interpretative practice.

Here is a class discussion guide I've created for my students, followed by the essay questions I've assigned.  Feel free to use them if they help you.


Peer-Led Class Discussion on Interpreting LGBT History at Museums and Historic Sites


You have 10 minutes to review the questions. You should all have your books. You will discuss the book for 45 minutes.  These questions do not need to be addressed in the order which they appear, but I have conceptualized them in order:
1.Who was this book designed for, do you think?  Given that, what can we surmise about the demographics and interests of its target audience? Why is it necessary for museums and historic sites to take on this work? 2.What are some of the biggest shifts in American historical understa…

Kavanaugh: This Was No Witch Hunt

I recently wrote this piece in response to the comparisons of Kavanaugh's hearings to the witch trials in Salem in 1692 on behalf of Voices Against Injustice, a Salem-based nonprofit organization:

The winds of Salem are rising.  From Canada’s Calgary Herald to Fox News, in blogs and tweets, 
reporters, columnists and pundits have compared recent Senate hearings on the confirmation of
 Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the witch trials that consumed Salem, Massachusetts 
in 1692.  Their claims, righteous and protective, defend Kavanaugh from his accusers and point to
 a “witch hunt,” an hysterical web of conspiracy and lies. “No evidence!”  They clamor that Kavanaugh is “a convenient scapegoat” for those who identify with 
the political left.  He is innocent, unjustly accused, caught in the turmoil of a political and cultural tempest 
much like the victims of Salem.  The notion that Kavanaugh is a victim has been splashed all over 
media. These claims are unfounded and historically …

A Poem about Home

Just a few nights after my mother died, my sister Ellen and I were driving to a hotel near the small cottage at a senior community where my parents have lived since 2013.


"What are we going to do?  Mom was home." she said.
"I feel homeless," I said.
It is true.  Our mother's heart was our port in the storm, an open welcome, a space of rest and respite.  The bricks and mortar surrounding her didn't matter.  She, herself, made us feel safe and loved, always and unconditionally.

I came across this poem by Ruth Carr, that reminds me of our family home, and even more of our mom:

There is a House

there is a house
whose door will not close in my face
where there will always be a place for one more
at the table.


there is a house
that lets in light all the year round
even in the winter the weakest of suns
reaches in.

there is a house
with walls that hold me like branches
with a roof of summer leaves
and roots that go deep.

there is a house where I can be long and n…