It is the purpose of this paper to engage with the challenge of interpreting situations and events in history so that they can be realized as forms of ‘mediated products’. The process and action of mediation has more to do with the ‘domestication’ of ‘the spoils of history’ (Lowenthal, 1996), and the transformation of those ‘spoils’ into present idioms (Gillis, 1997) – including history-linked and heritage-based tourism – than with the practices of serous scholarship and knowledge accumulation. As a contribution to underpinning the mediation process with appropriate levels of serious scholarship, to combat the potential for the ‘dumbing down’ of history (Coles and Armstrong, 2007) and to minimize the distortion and misuse of the ‘facts’ of history (Laurajane Smith 2006), the speculations in this paper are focused on constructing an investigative framework with which to ‘tease out’ the important and distinctive constituents of storytelling and place-making. The underlying intention is to expose the story-telling and place-making components of history which, through mediation and commodification may be incorporated into strategies of planned development. Using an approach adapted from forensic social science (here, drawing on methodologies and tools from geography and semiotics), an episode from Australian folkloric history is used as a case study.
The author 2014
Proceedings of the 12th Australasian Urban History Planning History Conference 2014