Preserving Memory, Protecting Privacy: Challenges and Strategies for Working through Community Anxiety in Digital Environments

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J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library; Department of Social Sciences


Public historians using online digital or spatial platforms to engage communities with the shared histories of a particular space are encountering new ethical questions and elevated anxiety levels about privacy. Historical data and images connected in space-time with houses, workplaces, schools, streets, and other extant landscape features can reanimate past realities so vividly that community members can feel threatened or even violated, especially when records depict contested events or private property. For this roundtable, six participants will pose questions from their experiences to kick off a collaborative discussion about how online place-based memory projects can empower agency instead of anxiety.

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Crossroads: National Council on Public History Annual Meeting 2022