Public History for a Post-Truth Era
Fighting Denial through Memory Movements
Public History for a Post-Truth Era explores how to combat historical denial when faith in facts is at an all-time low. Moving beyond memorial museums or documentaries, the book shares on-the-ground stories of participatory public memory movements that brought people together to grapple with the deep roots and current truths of human rights abuses. It gives an inside look at "Sites of Conscience" around the world, and the memory activists unearthing their hidden histories, from the Soviet Gulag to the slave trade in Senegal. It then follows hundreds of people joining forces across dozens of US cities to fight denial of Guantánamo, mass incarceration, and climate change.
As reparations proposals proliferate in the US, the book is a resource for anyone seeking to confront historical injustices and redress their harms. Written in accessible, non-academic language, it will appeal to students, educators, or supportive citizens interested in public history, museums, or movement organizing.
Table of Contents
Part 1: Sites of Conscience
1 Snapshots from Memory Movements at the turn of the Millennium, Album 1: Heritage and Human Rights in New York, Nottinghamshire, Buenos Aires, and Cape Town
2 Snapshots from Memory Movements at the turn of the Millennium, Album 2: Truth without Accountability in Bangladesh, Czech Republic, Russia, U.S., and Senegal
3 Defining Memory, Dialogue, and Action
4 Assessing Impact
Part II: Guantánamo Public Memory and Reckoning with "Who We Are"
5 How GTMO’s History has been Shaped by Denial: Public Memory and Public Policy in America’s State of Exception
6 Remembering and Reckoning with GTMO
7 Mobilizing an International Memory Movement for GTMO
Part III: States of Incarceration
8 Public Memory and the U.S. Carceral State
9 Remembering Rikers: Participatory Public Memory for Public Policy
10 Local Stories, National Genealogy: Memory Movements Against Mass Incarceration
Part IV: Climates of Inequality
11 Historical Denial and the Climate Crisis
Liz Ševcenko is Founding Director of the Humanities Action Lab, currently homed at Rutgers University-Newark, and was the Founding Director of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience. She organizes coalitions for historical memory and redress, combining the visions and forces of people working in public history, social movements, and transitional justice. She lives in Brooklyn.