"Our Day Will Come': Contested Memory Sites, Community Engagement, and Public History Practice

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Fletcher, Michael Joseph
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Middle Tennessee State University
This dissertation takes a two-fold approach examining the subject of field surveys. First, we explore the ground-breaking Irish survey, Landscapes of Revolution. Second, using the Landscapes experience, we offer something of a “how to” guide to help small organizations with little to no budget conduct similar surveys. The Landscapes of Revolution Archaeology Project is the first ever survey of the existing Irish War of Independence (1918-1921) landscape. Focusing on East County Cork, Landscapes of Revolution was conceived by Damian Shiels, an archaeologist based in Midleton, Co. Cork to draw attention to the precarious state of much of Ireland’s nineteenth and twentieth century, built heritage. The project was designed and executed with community engagement as a top priority. With both a limited budget, and personnel, the community members’ roles were to help identify and photograph potential structures and landscapes. The field survey is one of the fundamental activities in many preservation projects. Nevertheless, because of their cost and manpower needs, some surveys might seem beyond the reach of smaller organizations such as local historical societies. The second part of this dissertation draws upon my experience with the Landscapes project. With virtually no budget or full-time staff, Damian Shiels and I designed a survey in which we successfully carried out all parts of the process, from research to field work, using community volunteers with a vested interest in their own history. In addition to outlining our process, from the methodology to public programs, the work includes pointers and recommendations designed to help these groups conduct their own surveys utilizing community support.
History, Cultural resources management