Conference of International Federation on Public History in Berlin from 18 to 22. August in Berlin


  1. Prof. Dr. David Dean (Organiser, Presenter, Correspondent). Department of History and Centre for Public History, Carleton University, 400 Paterson Hall, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, ON Canada K1S 0T1. Email: david_dean@carleton.ca
  2. Dr. Christine Lavrence (Co-Organiser, Presenter, Correspondent). Department of Sociology, King’s University College at Western University, 266 Epworth Ave., London ON Canada N6A 2M3. Email: clavrenc@uwo.ca
  3. Prof. Dr. Raina Zimmering (Presenter, Correspondent). WeltTrends Institute fur Internationale Politick, August-Bebel Strauss 26-52, 14492 Potsdam, Germany. Email: zimmering@t-online.de
  4. Petros Apostolopoulos (Presenter, Correspondent). Department of History, North Carolina State University, 350 Withers Hall Campus Box 8108, Raleigh, NC 27695-8108, United States. Email: paposto@ncsu.edu

Panel Description: Emotions and Affect in Public History

Public historians are fond of saying that “emotions” - evoking emotions, stimulating the senses, creating representations that ensure embodied experience - are essential to the practice of public history. This can be explained, at least in part, because unlike academic historians, public historians have to pay particular attention to audiences, to the “public” in public history. Our work, for example in living history museums, in film and theatre, in archive-based or museum based exhibits, often engage publics through emotional, sensory, or embodied engagements. As significant as this is for our history work, it is important to recognize that the history of emotions, and the interdisciplinary study of emotions, senses, and affect, has been a developing field since at least the early 2000s. The time it ripe, therefore, to reflect on the role of emotions, senses, and affect in public history, building on the work of historians of emotions (eg Febvre, Reddy, Ahmed, etc) but also reflecting more generally on public history practice during and after the affective and performative turns. This panel offers four perspectives from various places, periods, and forms of public history.

Presenter 1: David Dean

Title: Performing Emotions in Public History: Reflections and Engagements

Abstract: This presentation offers both an overview of the role of emotions, senses, and affect in public history and specific engagement with two case studies. It begins with an summary of key concepts, methods, and theories associated with the history of emotions, drawing in part on the presenter’s experience as a co-organizer of the Society for the History of Emotions conference in Ottawa, Canada in October 2019. Insights from this overview are used to offer an analytical framework for two different public engagements with the past: the 2014-2018 Gallipoli exhibit at New Zealand’s Te Papa museum commemorating the First World War and The Jungle, an immersive 2017-2018 London, UK theatre production telling the story of a migrant camp in Calais that was both immensely popular and controversial.

Biography: David Dean is Professor of History at Carleton University and co-Director of the Carleton Centre for Public History. His research interests include history and performance, controversies in public history, and local public histories. He recently edited A Companion to Public History (2018). He is on the steering committee of IFPHand co-edits International Public History with Andreas Etges.

Presenter 2: Christine Lavrence

Title: Affective Citizenship and Reconciliation within Canadian settler colonialism

Abstract: This presentation explores the politics of memory of Canadian settler colonialism in the aftermath of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which concluded in 2015 and whose mandate was to document the historical and ongoing impact of the ‘Indian Residential School’ system on its students, their families and First Nation communities.  it explores how the Reconciliation process more broadly is organized through a ‘therapeutic’ framework, organized around key categories like apology, forgiveness, healing, reconciliation and empathy. This paper critically examines the potentialities and limits of the historical narrative of ‘affective citizenship’ (Johnson 2009) that is being advocated by the Canadian state through Reconciliation and how this is manifested in official discourse and commemorative initiatives, such as the addition of the archives at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to the Canada Memory of the World Register by the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.

Biography: Christine Lavrence is an Associate Professor at King’s University College at Western University in the Department of Sociology. Her research interests include historical memory and memorialization with post-communist Yugoslavia and Canadian settler colonialism, as well as consumption, gender and digital sociality.

Presenter 3: Raina Zimmering

Title: The divided remembrance on the German „Unification“ and the emotional and sensitive effects in East Germany

Abstract: This presentation focuses on the divided remembrance on German Unification and the emotional and sensitive effects on the East Germans. Recognizing the continued differences between East and West post-unification, the presentation will explore the role of public memory about the GDR. Attention will be paid to the use of emotional vocabularies, such as"Dictatorship" and "State of injustice" in the official presentations about the GDR, as the effects of silencing more positive histories and memories such as the fostering of social justice, interesting cultural policies, and a deep sense of community. This creates feelings of disappointment, failure, powerlessness, exclusion, related also to feelings of nostalgia or the sense of loss. The presentation engages with the discrepancy between everyday memory and cultural memory in the public presentation of history.

Biography: Raina Zimmering’s areas of interest are the Study of History, Art History and Ethnography, Doctor of Foreign Policy of Latin American States, Habilitation on the Security Policy of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. Professor of political science at Humboldt University in Berlin, University Professor at Universidad Nacional de Colombia and at Johannes Kepler University in Austria. Now Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for International Politics in Potsdam and member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the journal WeltTrends.

Presenter 4: Petros Apostolopoulos

Title: Affective practices on Wikipedia users’ discussions about History


Abstract: In this presentation, I study the discussions of Wikipedia users about history, while they create and edit Wikipedia pages. Wikipedia functions as a common and public space for personal reflection. It provides this opportunity through the portal of “talk”, which shows the discussions and debates between Wikipedia users about some points of the entries. Specifically, I examine different Wikipedia pages related to traumatic events of the past and analyze how Wikipedia users get emotionally involved in the production of historical knowledge expressing online their views about the past, agree and disagree about which aspects of the past should be represented on a Wikipedia article. The discussions between Wikipedia users reveal how they emotionally perceive history but also why they get involved in the production of historical knowledge on Wikipedia.

Biography: Petros Apostolopoulos is a PhD student in Public History at North Carolina State University. He holds a Bachelor in History from University of Athens, a Research Master (MPhil) in Modern Greek History from the same university, and a Master (MA) in History (specialization in Cultures of Knowledge) from VU University Amsterdam. His dissertation explores the production of historical knowledge on Wikipedia.

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