Monday, March 31, 2008

What is "active" history?

Some Toronto historians will host a seminar on "Active History: History for the Future" at Glendon College (part of York University) on September 27-28 next fall. It is, they say, a "symposium designed to bring together university-based and community-based historians interested in assessing the ways in which historians engage with communities beyond the academy. ... How do, and how can, historical investigations of the past transform both historians and communities in the present and future?"

Well, damned if I know, but I like the question.

The organizers define "active history" as "history that listens and is responsive; history that will make a tangible difference in people's lives; history that makes an intervention and is transformative to both practitioners and communities. We seek a practice of history that emphasizes collegiality, builds community among active historians and other members of communities, and recognizes the public responsibilities of the historian."

Historians "with multiple perspectives on active history" inside or outside the academy are invited to propose presentations (by April 10) to Jim Clifford in the History department at York or at
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