Eureka Henrich (University of Leicester Wellcome Trust Research Fellowship in Medical Humanities) has blogged some thoughts on the ‘What is Public History in the light of the recent refugee crisis?’ seminar, 21/10/2015.
My brain is still happily buzzing from last night’s IHR Public History Seminar on the question, ‘What is public history in light of the refugee crisis?’ (a intro to the event from Kathleen McIlvenna can be found here). With thoughtful and engaging responses from the different perspectives of academia (Prof Peter Gatrell, Manchester and Prof David Feldman, Birkbeck), museums (Susie Symes, 19 Princelet Street), and humanitarian organisations (Juliano Fiori, Save the Children), the roundtable raised common problems and tensions in the representation of refugee pasts and presents.
The dangers of conflating the current ‘refugee crisis’ with past crises (and perhaps even adopting that language) was a major theme – one that has been pulled apart skilfully in recent months by Jessica Reinisch. Another was the tendency in ‘pro-refugee’ discourses to emphasise refugee contributions to society (think of the UNHCR ‘Einstein was a refugee’ poster shared widely online) as justification…
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