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Out of the chaos and pain of Charlottesville, museum professionals, public historians, and community leaders must move quickly to face the challenges of competing historical memory, claims of heritage desecration and the ongoing scourge of racism. This book takes on the tough issues that communities across America---and analogous locales overseas---must face as white supremacy, political quagmires and visions of reconciliation with the past collide.
The events of summer of 2017 that culminated in Charlottesville are outgrowths of ongoing dialogues and disputes about controversial history that encompass numerous historical situations and touch every part of US history. Strategies for working effectively with communities will be explored, and the book will delve into the ways that other countries have attempted to overcome their painful pasts. In addition, this book will highlight essays and case studies from numerous museum professionals, scholars and civic leaders as they grapple with the past they interpret for their visitors.
The book will be framed by questions that help museum community leaders make sense of the competing historical narratives and political machinations that drive the current controversy around monuments and memorials---
How and when do you remove an offensive monument? Hint: It’ll take more than a screwdriver….
How can we be intentional about contextualizing the history and the motivations for building monuments for our visitors?
How can communities be responsive without forsaking the historical record?
Here is a guide to collective introspection, awareness of our own biases, and thoughtful community responsiveness which are the tools that will make this engagement meaningful and lasting.