Institute of Archaeology
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First for Archaeology in UK 2015

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Kerrie A Pezzo

‘Weekend Warriors’: Re-enactors, Living Historians, National Narratives and the Value of ‘Authenticity’ in the US and UK

Those in public archaeology and heritage management will be familiar with re-enactors and living historians: the volunteer ‘weekend warriors’ who appear at various archaeological/historical/heritage sites on weekends and bank holidays, dressed in period clothing and doing their best to demonstrate to the public ways of life that no longer exist. My research will look to examine modern (re)constructions of the past by volunteer re-enactors and living historians in the US and UK through qualitative and inductive research (primarily interviews) at different re-enactment events in each country. The study will focus on three historical time periods: the period from the Roman invasion of Britain in 43 AD to the Norman conquest at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 (UK), the Lace Wars period of the French and Indian War and the American Revolution (US) and the American Civil War (US & UK). The first two periods will look at periods of national foundation and change in each country while the American Civil War as one of the most popular periods for re-enactment in the US and UK, will offer a basis for comparison between the two. It is my hope that this qualitative approach will lend insight into both what brings individuals into the hobby, what motivates them to stay and what drives the choices they make in research and presentation, all the while looking at how they construct their interpretations of the historical past through their understanding of the complicated and occasionally controversial idea of ‘authenticity’.

Funding organisation

  • Institute of Archaeology Award For Fieldwork & Research

Supervisors

 Educational background

  • BA, Anthropology, University of Notre Dame (USA), 2007
  • MA, Managing Archaeological Sites, UCL, 2009

Pezzo, K.A. November 2010. “Universal Access for Universal Value: Creating Disabled Access at Heritage Sites for those with Mobility Impairments” Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites. 12(4), 290-323.

Conference

2011 Institute of Archaeology Graduate Student Conference, UCL ‘Understanding What Drives Re-enactors and Living Historians: a look at the motivations behind these ‘Weekend Warriors’’

  • Military Encampment at a French & Indian War event-Fort Ticonderoga, NY, USA
  • Re-enactor portraying a Saxon Priest at a Saxon/Norman event at the English Heritage site Battle Abbey
  • Roman Re-enactor speaking with the public during an event at the Museum of London

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