Public history

CfP: Public History in European Historical Perspectives

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The British Museum: the Etruscan Room, with visitors

The British Museum: the Etruscan Room, with visitors. Wood engraving, 1847. - 1847 - Wellcome Collection, United Kingdom - CC BY. Source:

Conference on 14-15 September 2023 at the University of Luxembourg, followed by a book publication. Deadline: 1 April.

According to international literature, public history emerged as a subfield of history in the United States in the 1970s. University programs, conferences, journals, grants, and networks of public history indeed flourished in North America in the last 50 years. However, some public historical practices have existed in Europe - without bearing the name of public history - long before the institutionalization of the field in the 1970s. It is this long history of public historical practices in Europe that this international conference aims to uncover. 

Proposals covering a wide range of public historical practices from different time periods (including Antiquity, Middle-Ages, and pre-Modern times) are welcome. Proposals may address (but are not limited to) public historical practices related to:

  • Collections and repositories (incl. cabinets of curiosities, museums, archives and libraries)
  • Exhibitions and re-enactments
  • (incl. traveling exhibitions, pageants, commemorative and other events, and local and world fairs, games)
  • Historical and commemorative sites (incl. historical preservation, erecting/removing monuments, street names, commemorations, and excavations)
  • Publications (incl. role of fiction and non-fiction in creating historical understanding)
  • Media productions (incl. photographs, radio, films, music, songs, theater, operas, and other types of artistic performances)
  • Historical groups and associations (incl. history groups, societies, associations, movements, political parties)

Proposals should engage with the following definitions, conceptions, and construction of the “public dimension” of public historical practices: 

  • Public authorship: Who was taking part - and in what role - to public historical practices? 
  • Public audiences: Who were the public audiences? How were they defined/imagined by the producers? What are the differences between imagined and real audiences? 
  • Public accessibility: communication and mediation: How was history communicated? Through what means? With what objectives? What was the aim?
  • Public space: Where was history produced? How did history engage with surrounding sites and space?

In addition to panels with presentations, conference participants will take part in a collaborative workshop to prepare the publication of an edited volume on the history of public history in Europe with De Guryter. Selected papers from the conference will be invited to be part of the publication. For that reason, applicants need to submit an extended abstract.

Proposals should include the name(s) of the applicant, their affiliation, the title of their presentation and an extended abstract around 1500 words. Proposals for both (partial) panels and individual papers will be considered. 

The deadline for all proposals is 1 April 2023, to be sent to

Organised by the Public History as New Citizen Science of the Past project, the conference will take place on 14-15 September 2023. It will be hosted by the Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C²DH) at the University of Luxembourg. The conference and presentations will be in English. All presentations will take place on-site.

The results of the CFP will be announced by mid May 2023. There is no participation fee. Organisers will provide some travel and accommodation support for presenting participants (exact details of the funding will be announced in May).

Please send any questions or inquiries to the following email: