Who matters? Public history and the invention of the Canadian past
University of New Brunswick
There is no longer any real dispute that the past, as distinct from traditions, is an invention based on a careful selection of apparently empirical evidence. Historians now accept that there is no "ultimate" truth; there are many perspectives or narratives, all valid and all exploring new realities and new truths. The current multi-streamed discourse in history, however, is fraught with impossible challenges for public historians. Some narratives focus on a heritage of achievement and triumph. Others will focus on exploitation and marginalization, which will in turn be denied by the narratives of the exploiters. Not all narratives can be accommodated equally without creating problems of imbalance or a diet of pablum. Such is the conundrum of the Canadian historian who would like to achieve that pleasant Canadian nirvana ? consensus.
Acadiensis, XXIX, 2 (Spring, 2000), pp. 205-17