Saturday, May 30, 2009

Day 2: Memory and Commemoration

The two sessions which I attended on Tuesday morning both contained an emphasis on commemoration and the act of remembering. Commemoration is something which appeals to both historians and the general public, and is something which public historians can play a role in.

Session 1--Private Voices, Public Display. All three presenters examined history's role in presenting the memory of individuals. Katherine J. Taylor examined "War Bride Commemoration" and the way in which commemorative events impact the way in which people remember. Taylor suggested that memory was greatly impacted by place, people, and that collective memory was often created by the gathering of groups. Similarly, Jennifer Wilhelm examined the NFB film "City of Gold." This film examined the Yukon and created a specific gendered and racialized interpretation of the past. Both Wilhelm's and Susan L. Joudrey's papers highlighted the constructed nature of history. Joudrey examined the Indian Village at the Calgary Stampede and the way in which heritage was used as tourism. The use as history in popular film, or history as tourism is something which is still prevalent in today's society and which public historians play a large role in.

Session 2--Memory and Authority in the North Atlantic World. All of the presenters in this panel examined different aspects of memory. Chris Tait looked at the way in which the 24th of May became a holiday, and the impact of the tensions between imperialism and Independence played on the holiday. Both Lee Slinger and Valeries Deacon examined memory in France. Slinger looked at how the PCF employed the memory of the revolution of 1789 to encourage communism in 1939. Whereas, Deacon examined the act of forgetting in France, and the degree to which people have often forgotten the participants in the French Revolution who belonged to the political right. Overall, this session linked subtantial events in our past to the act of commemoration and memory, it highlighted the impact whcih memory can have on political events and society in general.

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