1st Edition

Public History for a Post-Truth Era Fighting Denial through Memory Movements

By Liz Sevcenko Copyright 2022
    314 Pages
    by Routledge

    314 Pages
    by Routledge

    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.


    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 Ševčenko 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.

    The denial of substantiated realities of the past is examined in Liz Ševčenko’s incisive contribution, which explores questions of truth, consensus, and power in public histories from several critical perspectives. Written in an accessible and clear style, it is punctuated by personal reflections and offers a lucid treatment of the subject. This breadth and depth make it a valuable addition to literature on this vital topic.

    Florence Evans, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, in Museums & Social Issues