Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Active history

Active History, "a new website to help connect historians with the public, policy makers and the media" is "actively soliciting papers in all areas of historical inquiry." It's an initiative of Canadian historians who put it together at a conference at York University in the fall of 2008.
We define active history variously 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.
The principles seem admirable. I hope they prosper, and maybe some readers of this will be moved to contribute. But Active History's method -- put up a website, ask contributors to fill it, wait some more, put out another request for contributors -- seems, well, passive history.

This ain't Wikipedia. You want to put history into the blogosphere, you gotta do the work.... They do have some links I'm going to pursue, however.

Update, October 2: Jim Clifford assures me that Active History will "increase the activity over the next few months, but we also see this as a long term project." And maybe the Wikipedia model does have traction here. "We also noticed that took a few years to really gain momentum, but it now has the leading historians in Britain writing accessible papers on a regular basis."
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