SPECIAL ISSUE OF POLITOLOGIJA "Monuments, Museums and Institutions: between Memory Activism and Public History"

Guest editors:

Thomas Cauvin, University of Luxembourg,
Dovilė Budrytė, Georgia Gwinnett College,
Violeta Davoliūtė, Vilnius university

Local, national and even international politics are strongly influenced by the circulation of
historical narratives, of stories about who “we” are. The shaping of such narratives is thus a
significant arena of political contestation, manifest in the erection (or removal) of monuments,
the curation of museums and the practice of educational and historical institutions, among
other forms of activity.
One approach to the question, ostensibly empirical, describes “memory activism” as an activity
conducted by “memory activists,” or committed individuals and groups devoted to their own
version of the historical past. Defined by Yifat Gutman and Jenny Wüstenberg as “strategic
commemoration of a contested past to achieve mnemonic or political change by working
outside of state channels” (The Routledge Handbook of Memory Activism, 2023, p. 5), memory
activism is seen as a global development, with significant influence on state policies,
transnational cooperation, public practices of commemoration and other types of social and
political practices.
Another approach to the question, self-consciously normative, describes “public history” as the
effort of “public historians” who engage citizens in the co-creation and communication of the
past, with the intent of strengthening democracy and while observing professional standards of
evidence and verifiability. While the term “public history” has spread from the United States
since the 1970s, Gardner and Hamilton note that other Western countries have witnessed a
similar expansion in the professionalization of heritage practices, the expansion of history
interpretation, and grass-roots projects to collect oral history (The Oxford Handbook of Public
History, 2017, p. 4).
The goal of this special issue is to examine how monuments, museums and institutions have
been used (or abused) to shape and communicate historical narratives, and to assess the
strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to the topic. Does the “memory activism”
approach help to reconcile history and memory, as individual and collective memories become
part of public history projects, or is it loaded with assumptions about the identity, intentions,
and methods of “memory activists”? Are the normative concerns of “public history” with citizen
engagement, professional standards, and the strengthening of democracy relevant to the case
studies in question? Is the professionalization of heritage practices and the engagement of
citizens by “public historians” in the co-creation of history a truly global phenomenon, or is it
found primarily in consolidated democracies?
We encourage studies on the following list of processes and actors (which is only illustrative
and not intended to be exhaustive) that pay attention to how they engage in the uses of history
(education, reconciliation, memory politics, etc), the communication of history (exhibitions,
media, etc), the interpretation of history, and the management of sources.

1) The erection or dismantling of monuments, the renaming of streets;
2) The development of museum exhibitions, approaches to curation;
3) The development of historical curricula and programs in schools;
4) The activities of memory institutions (e.g. Institute of National Memory in Poland or
the International Commission for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes in Lithuania);
5) National political actors not primarily engaged in public history (e.g. party leaders,
ministries of Defence, Interior, etc);
6) National grass-roots organizations (e.g. Sąjūdis);
7) Transnational networks (e.g. International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance).

Deadline for article submission: 20 August, 2023.

The academic diamond open access quarterly Politologija (Eng. Political Science) is a peer-
reviewed political science journal indexed in Scopus since 2012. Further information on author
guidelines and submissions may be found here:

Articles may be written in English or Lithuanian.

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