Call for Papers: Stepping Back in Time. Living History and Other Performative Approaches to History in Central and South-Eastern Europe

Workshop at the German Historical Institute in Warsaw on February 20-21, 2017 organised by the German Historical Institute Warsaw and the Imre Kertész Kolleg at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena.


Action, experience and emotion are the focus when it comes to performativity. In cultural studies, the performative turn has shifted the focus away from texts and structures to inquiries into actions performed and the bodily experiences involved in creating collective meaning. In the field of history terms such as “living history,” “doing history” and “reenactment” have been established to characterize the experiential component of various practices of reviving, restaging and appropriating events from the past in the present. The phenomena in question include battle reenactments and reconstructions of the past in museums, computer games and theme-based tourist attractions. Precise definitions and exact terminological distinctions have yet to be established, however.

One reason for the problem of defining these areas might be that the phenomena of living history (used here as a collective term for forms of bodily-sensual references to the past) are often pop-culture practices found at the interface between science, practical applications, and the entertainment industry. (Re)living history is distinct from academic research in its performative and affective elements. These circumstances, as well as the variety of forms living history takes, make describing and analyzing performative approaches to the past a challenge for historiography.

While research into the phenomena of living history has spread beyond the English-speaking world to include Western and Central Europe, it is still in its infancy in East-Central and Southeastern Europe. The planned workshop takes this as its starting point, inquiring into the specific forms of living history in this region. Apart from the description of individual phenomena, the varied analytical approaches to this field used by researchers in various disciplines will be presented and discussed at the workshop. Comparative approaches too, focusing on different regions at once, are more than welcome.

The aim of the workshop is to enable an intensive dialogue between researchers in various disciplines engaged in the description and analysis of living history in East-Central and Southeastern Europe. The advantages and disadvantages of individual analytical approaches will be discussed along with the problems of exact definitions.


The deadline for handing in papers is October 30, 2016.


The complete CfP includes contact information and possible topics for papers, please consult it for more information.