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Cultural Parks: What Happened?

By Eleanor Mahoney March 28, 2018

In the late 1960s and 1970s, a number of communities hoped to gain federal designation as “National Cultural Parks.” In pursuing recognition as “cultural” rather than “historical” landscapes, park supporters sought to upend longstanding National Park Service norms that tended to prioritize fixity over change and the past over the present and possible future evolution of a site. In the end, however, the push for a cultural park category proved elusive with each place instead entering the NPS system under the Historical Park designation.

Vietnam: Looking for the American War

By Brenda Barrett March 26, 2018

In Vietnam, our tour guide told us, they call winter the American Season. This is when well-heeled baby boomers come to see a country that figured so large in much of their youth. Some also come to see what has happened to country that they last saw under battle field conditions. What they find is a “communist” country in the throes of entrepreneurial high spirts. Not a wealthy country by any means, but with a GDP growth rate of over 7%. The streets of the cities are lined with small shops and choked with motor scooters. But what of the war, what remains of the landscape of past conflict? Read more about that here.

Interpreting and Representing Slavery

Scholars from four continents gathered in the World Heritage listed Rotunda at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville for a two-day conference on “Interpreting and Representing Slavery and its Legacies in Museums and Sites: International Perspectives” (March 19-20 2018). The conference explored the variety of ways universities, historic sites and museums from around the Atlantic World tell the story of slavery and its far reaching legacy. The conference was sponsored by Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, the University of Virginia, and the United States Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (US/ICOMOS) in collaboration with the United National Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Slave Route Project: Resistance, Liberty, and Heritage.

Reimagining the History of the (Inter)National Park Service

By Guest Observer February 7, 2018

The National Park Service has a long history of international engagement with ties to other nations, including Canada, dating to the agency’s earliest years. In 1961, during the height of the Cold War, an official Division of International Affairs was created, to advance the aims of conservation and U.S. diplomatic and political pursuits. Learn more about NPS international activities and the significance of the agency’s global ties in this piece by guest observer Joana Arruda.

Behind the Scenes of the Legislative Process

For this month’s Featured Voice interview, we talk with Don Hellmann, the former Assistant Director for Legislative and Congressional Affairs for the National Park Service. Hellmann ended his 40-year career working with Congress at the beginning of 2017. He spent the last 22 years with the NPS. In the interview, Hellmann provides insight into how the NPS legislative agenda changed over time as well as background on especially memorable bills, including Public Law 104-333, which addressed the future of the Presidio of San Francisco.