In order to define, assess, and theorize what we do as public historians, we first need to know our own past as a field. So says Denise Meringolo, a distinguished professor of History at the University of Maryland: Baltimore County. In this final episode of Season 1, recorded on November 5th on 2021, Dr. Meringolo talks with Dr. Leandra Zarnow about her personal journey as an accidental historian and how this led to a discovery of the deep, radical roots of public history. Through their conversation, Dr. Meringolo highlights the unique challenges faced by practitioners engaging in social justice activism - from the temporariness of their projects to the emotive aspect of documenting community stories to their role in not only preserving but protecting the people they serve. This field is nevertheless grounded in what Dr. Meringolo deems a “crazy optimism” that public historians can truly promote change for a better future.
For more on Dr. Meringolo’s work, see http://denisemeringolo.org/.
Check out Preserve the Baltimore Uprising Archive Project at http://www.baltimoreuprising2015.org/.