Pathway : Public History and Heritage Interpretation
"We might be successful and score high marks by uncritically, learning by rote, the history written by others, but the effort of collecting and writing our own history is different. The results of such efforts are not merely about scholarship for their outcomes generate ripples on the stagnant waters of our mental landscape.
The essence of our health, indeed our life, dwells in the passion of such endeavours." - Rabindranath Tagore
Transforming the ways we represent traditions from the past
What values can the past bring to the fast-paced and swiftly changing present? How can we discover and interpret where the roots of the present lie? The contemporary moment offers us new opportunities and new technologies with which to explore the historical, bring to the fore people’s experiences of the past, and through that new understanding, recreate and present new perspectives on the past.
We envision the Public History and Heritage Interpretation pathway - within the Master of Arts program in New Humanities and Design - as an opportunity to learn new ways of engaging with historical sites, monuments, and institutions and thus address the contemporary challenges of interpreting history. The pathway will enable interpretations of the past that include diverse voices hitherto ignored and thus engage with history outside conventional academic practice. It will create professionals who have the ability to transform museums, heritage sites, and archives into spaces that dynamically interpret the past by reimagining history with new technologies.
CPH members facilitating historical walks through Bangalore to enable people to discover the city’s layered history
Key Values in the Curriculum
- Hands-on History
- Public engagement with the past
- Inclusion of multiple narratives
- Trans-disciplinary approach to the past
- Collaborative Interpretation
Who Should Apply?
Anyone with an undergraduate degree, irrespective of the subject(s) of specialization, can apply. The pathway, though, requires a deep and enthusiastic interest in the past.
- Disciplinary Studies
- Trans-disciplinary Projects
- Theory and Understanding Units
- Self-Directed Inquiry/Research
- Knowledge Enhancement (Ability or Skills)
The Public History and Heritage Interpretation pathway provides critical and theoretical frameworks through which to consider historical sources and materials, narratives, and monuments. Through an engagement with existing scholarship, the focus is on a practical public history experience and developing craft in a field that is expanding and shifting in exciting ways. The incorporation of design methodologies and oral history through seminars, studios, and workshops, along with exposure to a range of media, technologies within physical and digital spaces, we will offer a well-rounded skill-set that is in conversation with on-going debates in the field.
The practice of public history integrates oral history, digital storytelling, and archival practices with communication tools that can make history accessible to a larger public. Learning will, therefore, involve a combination of the following skills:
- Archival Research and Documentation
- Audio recording and Archiving
- Digital Archiving
- Interviewing and Transcription
- Visual Communication Design
The pathway strives to nurture the following capabilities:
- Capability for judicious selection from among potential multiple versions of the past
- Capability for convivial research practice for constructing knowledge about the past
- Capability for conceptualising and co-creating archival systems and platforms
- Capability for disseminating research findings beyond academia
Center for Public History (CPH)'s wide client base will enable graduates to find suitable employment opportunities in the following sectors:
Institutions and Corporate Sector
- Leadership positions in institutional and corporate archives
- Archival consultant for corporates and institutions
- Content developer for events related to corporate heritage
- Museum curator
- Museum educator
- Content and Program Developer for museum galleries
- Heritage exhibition designer
- Archival and heritage book designer
- Heritage Programmer for archaeological monuments and sites
- Heritage-based walk designer
- Consultants for school projects
- Higher Education – Ph.D. in Public History
Class in progress at Bangalore Fort with Srishti, CPH-ASI project 2012
A shadow puppet show designed by students students, about the fall of Bangalore Fort in 1791, CPH-ASI project 2012
A bus full of stories, oral histories, CPH participates in the Malleswaram Moves Festival, 2013.
CPH members exploring stories about cinema with a Bangalore resident, 2013.
Public history expands the methods of academic history to incorporate history that is seen, heard, read and interpreted. Those specialising in Public History and Heritage Interpretation will therefore work with the historical method but also be trained in a larger range of practices that focus on visual culture, aesthetics, literature, geography, folk cultures, and language studies. Students will focus on the public context of historical scholarship. The core disciplines therefore move beyond history and include:
Visual Communication Design
The practice of Public History integrates oral history, digital storytelling, and archival practices with communication tools that can make history accessible to a larger public. Learning will therefore involve a combination of the following skills:
Audio recording and Archiving
Interviewing and Transcription
Visual Communication Design
Archival books and exhibitions about the institutional history designed by the CPH team.
Research and Collaboration
Those in the Public History and Heritage Interpretation specialisation will primarily work with projects that are undertaken by the Centre for Public History (CPH). In the last six years, CPH has played a pioneering role in creating archives of contemporary Indian institutions. CPH has worked with heritage sites, folk and artisanal communities, designed public history interventions at the Bangalore Fort, and created archives and designed archival books and exhibitions for IIMC, Kolkata, IMSc, Chennai, EPW, Mumbai, Indian Museum, Kolkata, and Sasha, Kolkata.
CPH’s wide range of projects are based in different cities in India. By engaging directly with CPH projects, students will also learn to integrate oral history, digital storytelling, and archival practices with communication tools that make history accessible to a larger public and move beyond academia. Apart from that CPH will also find suitable internship opportunities (Summer Practice) for learners at reputed institutions that work with museums, archaeological heritage and contemporary history. Learners will thus gain the experience of working with real-time projects.
CPH also collaborates with the numerous research and practice labs in Srishti and learners will also have the opportunity of connecting with filmmakers, cultural activists, new media practitioners, artists, and designers who work with history and heritage.