While I generally like old stuff, I must agree with this blogger.
At the risk of blaspheming as a historian, I declare that I dislike old stuff. I am growing impatient with public history’s traditional fetishization of physical objects and buildings. Certainly manuscripts, objects, and buildings serve a critical role in the historical record as access points for dynamic historical inquiry. Yet I maintain a strong aversion to the esoteric enjoyment of looking at and talking about old stuff. Distaste occasionally turns into outrage when I exit a classroom or museum and encounter the very real products of systemic poverty, historic racism, and structural oppression.
The suffocation of a static, object-oriented past dramatically contrasts with the invigoration of engaging with the public. The most thrilling conversations originate when I tell someone that I study history and they inevitably share their passionate, personal version of history. A retail coworker enthusiastically discussed history as a series of major local events happening in real time…
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