For the past few decades there have been repeated calls from within and without the National Park Service for more inclusive interpretation in the park system. Concurrently there has been great concern about the lack of diversity among visitors to Park Service units. The 2009 Comprehensive Survey of the American Public, repeatedly cited in the popular press, reported that recent visitors to a Park Service unit were “disproportionately” “white, non-Hispanic.” This paper looks to problematize this survey and its conclusions that concern for the environment is predominantly white, that attendance at NPS sites is tantamount to national belonging, and that future support for NPS is threatened as the United States becomes majority nonwhite. The paper also looks to question the link between the racial and ethnic identity of visitors and “relevant” interpretation.
“White People Like Hiking”: Some Implications of NPS Narratives of Relevance and Diversity
Laura Schiavo teaches museum history and theory and collections management in the Museum Studies Program at The George Washington University. She has presented at numerous national conferences in the areas of museums and their publics, civic engagement, community history, and visual culture. Two current research projects look at the historic roots of US museums and civic engagement and the concept of inclusivity and diversity in the National Park Service. Schiavo has years of experience as a curator at the National Building Museum, City Museum of Washington, DC, and the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington. Schiavo received her PhD in American studies and has many publications in the areas of visual culture and museums.
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Laura Burd Schiavo; “White People Like Hiking”: Some Implications of NPS Narratives of Relevance and Diversity. The Public Historian 1 November 2016; 38 (4): 206–235. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2016.38.4.206
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