Unofficial Histories is a public conference to discuss how the past is used and presented in society, from the university and public arenas, to popular culture and everyday life.
It aims to open up to examination the ways in which historians, curators, writers, journalists, artists, archivists, geographers, film-makers, musicians, playwrights, activists and enthusiasts produce and present the past in the public realm, popular culture and in everyday life. The conference is particularly interested in those histories which lie outside the ‘official’ and mainstream’, and those histories which challenge our existing ideas and understandings of the past.
From Raphael Samuel, we take the view that history is a very broad-based activity that ought to be a common enterprise, both collaborative and democratic. We also believe that history is ultimately a political undertaking and, as Howard Zinn put it, “historians cannot choose to be neutral; [they] write on a moving train.” For us that means exploring the myriad ways in which politics and history collide, fuse, or brush past one another, not just in the content of our interpretations, but also in the forms and practices we use to present and communicate our ideas, and in the general conditions under which we produce them. It also means insisting upon the idea, unfashionable in some quarters, that history still matters and can be a call to action.
We are committed to developing new and alternative ways of thinking about and producing history and we welcome participation and presentations from all sections of the history-making community.
The conference was first held in May 2012 in London, the second conference was held in June 2013 in Manchester, and the third conference was held in June 2014 in Huddersfield. The fourth Unofficial Histories conference was held at the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam in June 2015.“… a coming together of historians – academic, students and members of the public – to look at history as it is being presented today. It stepped out of the straight jacket of academia and actually took history to the public – an amazing weekend” Unofficial Histories is proud member of the International History From Below Network