While all history has the potential to be political, public history is uniquely so: public historians engage in historical inquiry outside the bubble of scholarly discourse, relying on social networks, political goals, practices, and habits of mind that differ from traditional historians. Radical Roots: Public History and a Tradition of Social Justice Activism theorizes and defines public history as future-focused, committed to the advancement of social justice, and engaged in creating a more inclusive public record. Edited by Denise D. Meringolo and with contributions from the field’s leading figures, this groundbreaking collection addresses major topics such as museum practices, oral history, grassroots preservation, and community-based learning. It demonstrates the core practices that have shaped radical public history, how they have been mobilized to promote social justice, and how public historians can facilitate civic discourse in order to promote equality.
"This is a much-needed recalibration, as professional organizations and practitioners across genres of public history struggle to diversify their own ranks and to bring contemporary activists into the fold." — Catherine Gudis, University of California, Riverside.
"Taken all together, the articles in this volume highlight the persistent threads of justice work that has characterized the multifaceted history of public history as well as the challenges faced in doing that work."—Patricia Mooney-Melvin, The Public Historian
Denise D. Meringolo is Associate Professor of History and Director of Public History at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her book Museums, Monuments, and National Parks: Toward a New Genealogy of Public History (University of Massachusetts Press, 2012) won the 2013 National Council on Public History prize for the best book in the field.