Public History at Amherst and Beyond
Watch our moderated roundtable on the radical roots of public history
In 2021 Amherst College Press published Denise Meringolo’s field-defining collection Radical Roots: Public History and a Tradition of Social Justice Activism. 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. Many see their work as future-focused, committed to the advancement of social justice, and engaged in creating a more inclusive public record.
On September 28, 2022 Professor Meringolo was joined by Emily Potter-Ndiaye, Dwight and Kirsten Poler and Andrew W. Mellon head of education and curator of academic programs at the Mead Art Museum, and Hayley Singleton Hyde, head of collections and operations at the Beneski Museum of Natural History. Togethere, they laid out the “radical roots” of public history and its deep connections to social justice and change as well as what public history means to landmark Amherst institutions such as the Mead and Beneski. Lloyd Barba, assistant professor of Religion and Latinx and Latin American Studies at Amherst College, moderated. This event was co-hosted by Amherst College Alumni & Parent Programs.
Bios: Denise Meringolo is a professor of history at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, where she is interim chair. A scholar-practitioner in the field of public history, she is the editor of the collection Radical Roots: Public History and a Tradition of Social Justice Activism (Amherst College Press, 2021) and author of Museums, Monuments, and National Parks: Toward a New Genealogy of Public History (University of Massachusetts, 2012).
Emily Potter-Ndiaye leads education and interpretive work at the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College as the Dwight and Kirsten Poler and Andrew W. Mellon head of education and curator of academic programs. In this role, she designs and leads museum curriculum with college students and faculty, and supports a 4-person education team on student engagement, collections access, community and K-12 engagement, and inclusive interpretation.
Hayley Singleton Hyde is head of collections and operations at the Beneski Museum of Natural History. In this capacity, she is the liaison between students, researchers, and courses that use, study, and interact with the collections.
Moderator: Lloyd Barba, Assistant Professor of Religion and Latinx and Latin American Studies at Amherst College.