Friday, April 8, 2011
European Approaches to Public History Session Generates Interesting Discussion, Debate
Friday morning's session "European Approaches to Public History: Identifying Common Needs and Practices," generated a lively discussion among participants and attendees. Some of the more engaging questions centered upon the absence of "politics" as a primary theme [or even a point of discussion] at this year's NCPH conference. From the presenters' perspective, politics can never be separated from the practice of public history in Europe, while it seemed to be missing or at least go largely unmentioned from many U.S. centric conference panels. In hearing this discussion, I wondered if perhaps one reason [among many] for this difference is the funding sources that underpin public history in Europe and the United States. In Europe, the overwhelming majority of funding is public [local, region, national, European] while in the United States, funding comes from a variety of sources, including foundations, individual donors, corporations, universities and government - though this is declining with each year. Perhaps the dependence on government for funding in Europe more directly inserts politics into the discussion and perhaps not. I'd be interested to hear what others think about this question.