Camilla is a Doctoral researcher working on the PHACS project

Camilla Elisa Portesani is a Doctoral Researcher working on the PHACS Project (Public History as the new Citizen Science of the Past), in the workpackage dedicated to Participatory History in Museums. She is also the the leader of the Participatory Public History Lab.

Throughout her research endeavour, Camilla Portesani aimed to resolve and answer the question of  “How can history be written through (transnational) public participation and co-production practices inside (and for) a museum of transnational history?”. She strives to examine the implementation of public participation for collaborative history-making with the objective of producing historical content for a temporary installation. In the framework of a collaboration with the House of European History in Brussels, she created the pilot project of the Participatory Public History Lab (PPHL), where she could develop, test and assess a transnational interpretative participatory methodology to enrich the existing discourse and content proposed and performed in the museum.

In her dissertation, Camilla Portesani examines the creation of the HEH and of the historical narratives presented and performed inside the museum. She focuses on how the discourse and narrative of the museum evolved throughout her pilot project (PPHL), namely after the application of participatory practices to collaboratively generate new sources and narratives and to nuance the existing one with multiple perspectives. On top of the applied participatory methodology and its results, her dissertation analyses the frictions engrained in the complex process of negotiating authority and power and in moderating both the new content and additional perspectives involved.

Moreover, her study scrutinises the authority and power dynamics characterising the involved institution from its creation to the present day, highlighting the challenges and practicalities of applying such a project and methodology of collaborative history-making in this specific case study of the HEH. It also tackles the transformation and adaptation of the product of the participation (student produced narratives) into content for a temporary installation inside the venues of the museum.

Leaning on the discipline of Public History and the core concepts of public participation, shared authority and expertise of experience, Portesani’s research thesis problematizes and proposes an analysis of the construction of the historical narratives of the HEH and its collection. It aims at building, testing and assessing a methodology to examine how transnational public participation can be implemented in this particular case study to collaboratively produce new content and encourage participants to challenge the existing discourse of the museums and write new historical narratives inspired by it.

Portesani holds a joint Master’s Degree in EUROCULTURE Erasmus Mundus Master of Arts from the Strasbourg University, France and the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen in the Netherlands. She engaged in the conversation around inclusiveness and multifocality which characterizes history and historiography. Her Master’s Thesis focused on the analysis of museum representations of colonial past in the Netherlands. She studied a digitised extract of the collections of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam presented on the themed tour of the official app dedicated to the Dutch colonial past and investigated on to what extent the decolonisation practiced were applied. Previously she completed a double Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Strasbourg in Foreign Languages and Cross-cultural studies and in History of Art.