Public History: New Discovery or Forgotten Past? (Passing Remarks on Ukrainian History)

  • Post category:Issue XXII

Liudmyla Chekalenko
Doctor of Political Science, Full Professor, Hennadii Udovenko Diplomatic Academy if Ukraine, Merited Worker of Science and Technology of Ukraine
ORCID: 0000-0002-2819-9424

DOI: 10.37837/2707-7683-2021-44

Abstract. To answer the question of what public history is, it is worth turning to its origins. The emergence of academic history in the 19th century was associated with its separation from other fields of knowledge. At that time, it was believed that without a professional historical education, it would be impossible to become a learned and intelligent person and to narrate the past objectively and truthfully. Otherwise, these stories would resemble nothing but myths and fairy tales.
During Soviet times, history gradually became a scientific discipline as well as an ideological doctrine, as its primary task during the rapid cascade of changes in various political regimes was to educate ideologically savvy professionals for state-building.
Historical science was formed during the creation of nation-states and affirmed the national identity of various social and ethnic groups that formed one nation. World War II forced historians to rethink the meaning of life, its fragility, and vulnerability. At the same time, the deep political, economic, and social world crisis of the 1970s – another global upheaval – drew the attention of historical science to the person. Oral history, new social history, public history, etc. sprang into existence. Attention was also paid to certain social groups – women, religious communities, working and student youth, etc. Gradually, public history has become a factor contributing to the democratisation of historical science.
Thus, the article describes the peculiarities of the development of public history and its forward movement in the world. The author concludes that public history will not only provide a modern idea of what historical knowledge is but will also help to find out how it works now in our context, how it is used for the benefit of various individual and collective social actors, and, ultimately, will provide guidance for discerning the basis of Ukrainian disputes over historical issues.
Keywords: official history, public history, emergence, development, crisis of the 1970s.

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