International Federation for Public History Conference - Public History in a Digital World: The Revolution Reconsidered

19 Jul 2013 - 00:00

Amsterdam, Thursday 23 October 2014 - Sat 25 October 2014

First Call for Proposals

Historical sources and narratives about the past infiltrate every corner of the web, from home-made digital media to online exhibitions, across social networks and in virtual museums. Digital tools have become essential for publics who preserve, present, discuss, and dispute history, and they will play a major role in the commemoration of the anniversary of WWI beginning in 2014. The possibilities of the digital world seem almost unlimited: never before have massive collections of a wide variety of historical materials been so accessible for large audiences across national and cultural borders. What’s more, new genres such as blogs and virtual discussion boards have expanded the public possibilities of history online – for co-creating historical narratives as well as for communicating about the past with various audiences.
Given all this, the digital turn should be especially significant for public historians, but have expectations been matched by activities? After two decades of digital revolution it is time to critically consider what digital media brings to Public History, and where Public History is headed in a digital world. This international conference, organized by the International Federation for Public History, will bring together experts, novices, and experimenters from all over the world to share insights, questions, and practices concerning the impact of the digital world on the theory and practice of Public History. Issues to consider include:


  • How revolutionary is the digital turn for the research and practice of Public History?
  • How are digital innovations changing Public History practices?
  • Are public historians critical enough towards the shortcomings of digital practices?
  • What “cool stuff” from the digital toolbox adds value to PH projects, teaching activities, etc?
  • Which digital strategies do not live up to the hype, and why?
  • Which audiences are public historians reaching and excluding with digital practices?
  • How are audiences involved and engaged through digital practices?
  • How are historical narratives changing under the influence of digital media and the internet?
  • How can digital Public History generate or inspire new ways of interacting with the public?
  • How does digital Public History relate to older forms and traditions of Public History?
  • What can we learn from a critical analysis of Digital Public History?
  • Possible ideas for sessions include:
  • Audiences and involvement: Who are public historians reaching, and excluding, with digital public history?
  • Authorship and authority: Who is representing history on the web?
  • Narratives and storytelling: Which pasts are(n’t) public historians telling on the web?
  • Integration: How do digital and analogue Public History relate?
  • Practices: How is the past presented in the digital realm?
  • Didactics: How do we teach digital Public History?
  • Analogue Public History: What is done best without the digital?
  • Communication: How can digital history 2.0 and Social Media foster the diffusion of Public history ?

We welcome submissions from all areas, including public historians working in museums, archives, education, heritage management, consulting and public service, as well as newcomers to the field of Public History. Apart from individual papers and proposals for panel sessions, we encourage workshop proposals as well as poster or media presentations. The emphasis should be on critical analysis, not show and tell – submissions that investigate both the limits of public history in a digital world, as well as its opportunities, are especially welcomed.
250 word proposals are due by: January 31 2014 to ifphamsterdam2014[at]
Local Committee :
Dr. Paul Knevel, Assistant Professor of History & Coordinator, MA in Public History, University of Amsterdam
Dr. Manon Parry, Assistant Professor of Public History, University of Amsterdam
Prof. dr. Kees Ribbens, Senior Researcher, NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies
Dr. Serge Noiret, President, International Federation for Public History

Program Committee

Dr. Fien Danniau/Dr. Bruno de Wever, Instituut voor Publieksgeschiedenis, University of Ghent, Belgium
Dr. Jean-Pierre Morin, International Federation for Public History, Canada
Dr. Manon Parry, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Dr. Hinke Piersma, NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, The Netherlands
Dr. Constance B. Schulz, University of South Carolina, USA
Dr. Christine Gundermann/ Dr. Irmgard Zündorf, Freie Universität, Germany