Friday, August 31, 2007

What do historians think about the Canadian War Museum controversy?

In the winter term I will be teaching a course called "The Practicing Historian" that looks at a variety of issues related to research methodology, historiography, and the presentation of history to the public. The current controversy around the Canadian War Museum's decision to change its texts dealing with the Second World War bomber raids on Germany provides an excellent opportunity for my class explore some of these debates about how history is presented to the public - and indeed, how history is written.

But what do historians think of this particular controversy? Anyone who is interested in getting a sense of this debate beyond the statements of prominent historians in the media might be interested in checking out the messages posted on H-Canada, a Canadian history listserv that I co-edit. Alastair Sweeny has started the ball rolling, and there is an initial group of eight responses in what will likely be a vigorous debate. Opinions so far have been far from unanimous, which I tend to think supports the original text which stated that the impacts of these raids are, in fact, "bitterly contested" - even among the historical community.

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3 Comments:

At 7:42 a.m., Blogger Dr.Dawg said...

Many thanks for this--interesting reading.

 
At 9:09 a.m., Blogger Idealistic Pragmatist said...

I've been hoping for your commentary since I first heard about this issue! Thanks for the tip.

You're going to be using this example in class, then?

 
At 9:41 a.m., Blogger Matt said...

It will be one of a series of recent controversies in recent years - starting with "The Valour and the Horror" documentary, and also including the "Prairie Giant" dispute. I'm also going to be looking for international examples, like the Enola Gay display at the Smithsonian.

 

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