Rethinking (re)doing: historical re-enactment and/as historiography

JOHNSON, Katherine M (2015). Rethinking (re)doing: historical re-enactment and/as historiography. Rethinking History, 19 (2), 193-206.

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Re-enactment is a highly popular mode of public history, not only amongst hobbyists, but also in museums, official festivals, documentaries, movies and even school education programmes. It is also emerging in numerous academic fields as a salient (albeit problematic) topic of analysis. Particularly amongst historians, however, it remains on the fringe, held at arm's length, the charismatic, but troubled (and troubling) distant relative. This article questions some of the academic preconceptions regarding re-enactment, reinterpreting the participatory, embodied aspects of the practice as areas of significant potential. I do so by first briefly examining the (potentially productive) tensions between archival, academic history and other modes of historical inquiry, considering what traditions of the discipline may be affecting our attitudes towards other, less “scholarly” modes. The increasingly interdisciplinary nature of academia encourages us to utilise other theoretical and methodological approaches in this endeavour. Bringing historiography, anthropology, philosophy and performance studies theory into communication, I then examine the Jane Austen Festival Australia as an ethnographic case study. In so doing, I assess the potential of re-enactment as an embodied, performative methodology; one that challenges us to readdress what we consider to be history – and who we acknowledge as historians.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 2103 Historical Studies; History
Identification Number:
Page Range: 193-206
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 21 Jan 2019 11:26
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 06:51

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