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Public History in Social Media

Memory Culture on 20th century history on Instagram and TikTok

Representations of the past in social media pose great challenges to public history, but also offer opportunities when it comes to presenting history to a broader public. Social media networks have quickly become new ecologies of narrating history, providing a space for sharing information about the past and adapting analogue forms of commemoration to new media environments. Therefore, it becomes increasingly important to better understand social media communication about history. How does historical storytelling on platforms such as Instagram, YouTube or TikTok look like? How far do these formats blur historical facts and fiction? What is the participatory potential of social media history? In what ways do historical projects on social media reach new audiences and engage the public?

Public history provides a sufficient methodology and critical concepts to study social media communication about the past. For that purpose, the course introduces a public history framework that will enable us to evaluate and critically analyze digital projects about multiple histories in particular on visual and audiovisual platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.

The course is designed as a joint German-Israeli online course. Its focus is on the digital communication of history in social media. We will have interactive online sessions that introduce relevant theory, methods and concepts, and explore and discuss specific platforms and social media projects.

This course is taught by Dr. Irmgard Zündorf (Leibniz-Centre for Contemporary History Potsdam / Freie Universität Berlin) and Dr. Tobias Ebbrecht-Hartmann (DAAD Center for German Studies, HUJI).


Bunnenberg, C./ Logge, T./ Steffen, N (2021) „SocialMediaHistory.“ In: Historische Anthropologie 29, 2, pp. 267–283.

Ebbrecht-Hartmann, T. and Henig, L. (2021) “i-Memory: Selfies and Self-Witnessing in #Uploading_Holocaust (2016).” In: Digital Holocaust Memory: Education and Research. Ed. Victoria Walden. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 213-235.

Henig, L. and Ebbrecht-Hartmann, T. (2022) “Witnessing Eva Stories: Media witnessing and self-inscription in social media memory.” New Media & Society. 24:1, 202-226. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444820963805.