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‘Weekend Warriors’: issues of authenticity, cultural memory, and organisation amongst UK and US re-enactors

Pezzo, KA; (2016) ‘Weekend Warriors’: issues of authenticity, cultural memory, and organisation amongst UK and US re-enactors. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This thesis explores the aims and motives of re-enactors/ living historians from a systematic and critical perspective. These volunteer ‘weekend warriors’ appear at various sites on weekends and bank holidays, dressed in period clothing and demonstrating ways of life that no longer exist. While it seems the public generally enjoys re-enactments, there are concerns as to the overall value of these hobbyists. This work examines modern (re-)constructions of the past by volunteer re-enactors/ living historians in the US and UK primarily in three historical periods (the Roman invasion of Britain through the Norman conquest, the North American Lace Wars, and the American Civil War) through qualitative and inductive research at various re-enactment events throughout 2010 and 2011. This research has focused on various aspects of the hobby as seen through the eyes of the re-enactors themselves including: their motivations, research for events, what re-enactors gain from participating and what they see as potential benefits for themselves and others. Additionally, this thesis investigates how re-enactors construct and understand authenticity in a group, in their personal roles, and as part of a performance. Furthermore, a section of the work will explore cultural memory and identity through the study of re-enactment narratives – both ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’. Finally, heritage professionals have been interviewed to aid in the comprehension of re-enactment values along with the creation of a well-rounded framework for future use by both re-enactors and the professionals who wish to utilise this form of interpretation. Ultimately, historical re-enactment/ living history may be viewed as an interpretative tool bringing together different – sometimes informal – disciplines that study the past and can assist in interpretation and raise visitor interest. Seeking to understand the diverse values of re-enactors through the words of the re-enactors themselves offers a valuable insight into the advantages and disadvantages of the use of volunteer live interpretation in heritage management.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: ‘Weekend Warriors’: issues of authenticity, cultural memory, and organisation amongst UK and US re-enactors
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1474165
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