The nature of historical representation on Wikipedia: Dominant or alterative historiography?



Given their ease of use and capability for interactivity, new media are seen as having the potential to make visible previously marginalized voices. The online presence of the writing of history is increasing, and this potential would be a welcome development for the field as it would create a much richer set of easily available historical perspectives. However, this article suggests that the achievement of this promise is fraught with difficulty and that a more likely outcome is a mapping of the status quo in historical representation onto the new media. To illustrate this, I present an analysis of the Wikipedia accounts of Singaporean and Philippine history. For Singapore, alternative historical visions are not as developed as those for the Philippines, and this is reflected in the nature of the respective Wikipedia accounts. I suggest that a possible means to achieve something more of the promise of digital media for history is for information professionals to take a keener interest in Wikipedia, with an eye to helping include accounts of documented historical perspectives that are ignored by mainstream historiographical traditions.