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Staging the Past - Themed Environments in Transcultural Perspective


Conference April 23-25, 2009



At the turn of the 21st century, popular representations of history are taking on new forms, and reaching wider audiences, than ever before: The search for usable pasts is branching out into active appropriations of history such as performance, live-action role play, and retro chic fashion. Emphasising the socio-cultural functions of popular historical knowledge, the research group History in Popular Cultures of Knowledge (Historische Lebenswelten in populären Wissenskulturen der Gegenwart) aims to develop an interdisciplinary theory that will help to describe and interpret current popularisations of histories on the basis of case studies.

Among the phenomena discussed are themed environments that attempt to present histories and cultural traditions for consumption to paying customers: Theme parks attract many visitors, open air museums, re-enactments, and so-called mediaeval markets and music groups draw crowds. As globalised forms of cultural display, these phenomena are singularly effective and continue to puzzle historians, ethnographers, cultural and media analysts alike.

Drawing on themed environments across the continents, the conference focuses on the questions of how these representations bypass, are different from, or even contradict traditional as well as scientific modes of disseminating historical knowledge. What do these theatrical formations of 'living histories' and representations of domestic as well as foreign cultural histories mean in their specific social contexts?

The conference report by Michiko Uike-Borman (in German) can be accessed on H-Soz-u-Kult, the one by Carolyn Oesterle (in English) on AHF.


Thursday, 23 April
13:30

Wolfgang Hochbruck/Judith Schlehe (Freiburg)

Introduction

14:00

Joy Hendry (UK)

The Past, Foreign Countries and Fantasy... They All Make for a Good Outing: Staging the Past in Japan and Some Other Locations

14:45

Judith Schlehe/Michiko Uike-Bormann (Germany)

Staging the Past in Cultural Theme Parks: Representations of 'Self' and 'Other' in Asia and Europe


Break
16:00

Noel B. Salazaar (Belgium)

Imagineering Tailor-made Pasts for Domestic and International Tourists

16:45

Amos Ron (Israel)

Protestant Themed Environments and the Spiritual Experience


Break
19:30

Knud Seckel (Germany)

Hören wie die Minnesänger: Von den Quellen mittelalterlicher Musik zum musikalischen Reenactment

Friday, 24 April
9:00

Scott Lukas (USA)

The Themed Space: Culture, History, Social Identity and the Self

9:45

Carolyn Oesterle (Germany)

Themed Environments - Preformative Spaces: Performing Visitors in North-American Living History Museums


Break
11:00

Cornelius Holtorf (Sweden)

Placemaking: How the Past Is Told in Themed Environments

11:45

Vaness Agnew (USA)

Genealogies of Space in Colonial and Postcolonial Reenactment


Break
14:30

Martine Teunissen (Netherlands)

Staging the Past in the Revolutionary City: Colonial Williamsburg

15:15

Gordon Jones (USA)

Little Families: The Social Fabric of Civil War Reenacting


Break
16:30

Mark Wallis (UK)

'The New You': Best Practice in Live Historical Interpretation

Saturday, 25 April
9:30

Angharad Beyer/Andreas Sturm (Germany)

Building the Plan of Saint Gall: A Living History Enterprise back to the Roots of European Culture

10:15

Paul Rölke/Regina Loftus (Germany)

Venture into History


Break
11:30

Anja Dreschke (Germany)

Palying Anthropology

12:15Final Discussion

Break
15:00
Excursion: Kastelburg Waldkirch (Living History Programme)

 

For a detailed conference programme, click  here.


Organisers: Wolfgang Hochbruck (North American Studies), Judith Schlehe (Social and Cultural Anthropology), Sven Kommer (Media Science and Education)


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