Doing pasts

authenticity from the reenactors’ perspective

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

This article investigates how authenticity is construed and negotiated in four different fields of reenactment practice in Denmark (Iron Age, Middle Age, World War II and Francis of Assisi). It first outlines some key theoretical positions within recent international academic debate on reenactment and living history. Taking the viewpoint of the reenactors themselves, the article explores and compares how they create, experience and negotiate authenticity in the very process of imitating and embodying pasts. It transpires that authenticity is articulated, construed and evaluated differently, according, inter alia, to whether the primarily purpose is to learn about the past or rather to learn from the past. For some reenactors, the attempt to get as close as possible to the past connects to an ideal of historical accuracy, a standard from which all replicas and performances are measured. Yet a pragmatic recognition that the past can never be recreated completely is constantly present. For other reenactors, the doing of pasts is a way of accessing experiences and values that are felt to have been lost in modernity. At the same time, however, it is all-important to them that the world they imitate is a past that actually existed and not a fictional universe.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRethinking History
Volume21
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)171-192
ISSN1364-2529
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Cite this

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title = "Doing pasts: authenticity from the reenactors’ perspective",
abstract = "This article investigates how authenticity is construed and negotiated in four different fields of reenactment practice in Denmark (Iron Age, Middle Age, World War II and Francis of Assisi). It first outlines some key theoretical positions within recent international academic debate on reenactment and living history. Taking the viewpoint of the reenactors themselves, the article explores and compares how they create, experience and negotiate authenticity in the very process of imitating and embodying pasts. It transpires that authenticity is articulated, construed and evaluated differently, according, inter alia, to whether the primarily purpose is to learn about the past or rather to learn from the past. For some reenactors, the attempt to get as close as possible to the past connects to an ideal of historical accuracy, a standard from which all replicas and performances are measured. Yet a pragmatic recognition that the past can never be recreated completely is constantly present. For other reenactors, the doing of pasts is a way of accessing experiences and values that are felt to have been lost in modernity. At the same time, however, it is all-important to them that the world they imitate is a past that actually existed and not a fictional universe.",
author = "Anne Br{\ae}dder and Kim Esmark and Kruse, {Tove Elisabeth} and Nielsen, {Carsten Tage} and Warring, {Anette Elisabeth}",
year = "2017",
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language = "English",
volume = "21",
pages = "171--192",
journal = "Rethinking History",
issn = "1364-2529",
publisher = "Routledge",
number = "2",

}

Doing pasts : authenticity from the reenactors’ perspective. / Brædder, Anne; Esmark, Kim; Kruse, Tove Elisabeth; Nielsen, Carsten Tage; Warring, Anette Elisabeth.

In: Rethinking History, Vol. 21, No. 2, 2017, p. 171-192.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Doing pasts

T2 - authenticity from the reenactors’ perspective

AU - Brædder, Anne

AU - Esmark, Kim

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AU - Nielsen, Carsten Tage

AU - Warring, Anette Elisabeth

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N2 - This article investigates how authenticity is construed and negotiated in four different fields of reenactment practice in Denmark (Iron Age, Middle Age, World War II and Francis of Assisi). It first outlines some key theoretical positions within recent international academic debate on reenactment and living history. Taking the viewpoint of the reenactors themselves, the article explores and compares how they create, experience and negotiate authenticity in the very process of imitating and embodying pasts. It transpires that authenticity is articulated, construed and evaluated differently, according, inter alia, to whether the primarily purpose is to learn about the past or rather to learn from the past. For some reenactors, the attempt to get as close as possible to the past connects to an ideal of historical accuracy, a standard from which all replicas and performances are measured. Yet a pragmatic recognition that the past can never be recreated completely is constantly present. For other reenactors, the doing of pasts is a way of accessing experiences and values that are felt to have been lost in modernity. At the same time, however, it is all-important to them that the world they imitate is a past that actually existed and not a fictional universe.

AB - This article investigates how authenticity is construed and negotiated in four different fields of reenactment practice in Denmark (Iron Age, Middle Age, World War II and Francis of Assisi). It first outlines some key theoretical positions within recent international academic debate on reenactment and living history. Taking the viewpoint of the reenactors themselves, the article explores and compares how they create, experience and negotiate authenticity in the very process of imitating and embodying pasts. It transpires that authenticity is articulated, construed and evaluated differently, according, inter alia, to whether the primarily purpose is to learn about the past or rather to learn from the past. For some reenactors, the attempt to get as close as possible to the past connects to an ideal of historical accuracy, a standard from which all replicas and performances are measured. Yet a pragmatic recognition that the past can never be recreated completely is constantly present. For other reenactors, the doing of pasts is a way of accessing experiences and values that are felt to have been lost in modernity. At the same time, however, it is all-important to them that the world they imitate is a past that actually existed and not a fictional universe.

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