On 19th-21st July 2017, Dr Will Pooley (University of Bristol) organised a British Academy supported conference on ‘Creative Histories’ which was held in the Clifton Pavilion at Bristol Zoo Gardens. I was fortunate to be selected to present a paper. This was on the evaluative methodologies of the ‘Reflection Workshop’ and ‘Shared Experience Workshop’ that the Centre for Hidden Histories team have developed. These evaluative methodologies have provoked discussion about the individual, social and cultural impact of our First World War One university and community partner projects.
The range of conference presentations was incredibly diverse, with talks by Julia Blackburn on the process of writing creative histories as well as panels on ‘colonial archives’; ‘history, creative writing and crime’; and ‘history out and about’ in public. I spoke as part of a panel on ‘public engagement’, which was chaired by Dr Richard Stone and also included a paper by Gisele Lecker de Almeida (Ghent University). Gisele’s paper discussed recent developments in public history in Brazil, including the huge popularity enjoyed by Brazilian historians from across the political spectrum on social media. The discussion at the end of our panel included a consideration of the role played by the UK and Brazilian governments in encouraging or discouraging public history; the impact of political crises on the popularity of public history; and the extent to which social media promotes more top-down or democratic approaches to history. We also talked about how we can shift considering the ‘impact’ of projects from a focus on outputs to considerations of ‘process’ and ’embodied legacies’.
At the ‘Creative Histories’ conference it was also great to catch-up with colleagues who have been involved in the work of the Centre for Hidden Histories. Iqbal Husain (The National Archives) presented on The National Archives educational programme, ‘Loyalty and Dissent: South Asia in the First World War’. By contrast, First World War Engagement Centre colleague, Dr Nicola Gauld (Voices of War and Peace) was presenting on a recent Heritage Lottery Fund project with Nikki Thorpe. This schools outreach project chronicled the history of women in Birmingham, past and present.
To read the full conference itinerary, click on the link, Creative Histories Programme