Anyone doing Reenactment?

Just out of curiosity: Does anyone of you do Reenactment? That’s playful revival of history.

The most famous organization is SCA (Society for creative anachronism).

The epoch could be anything, most favoured are probably the middle ages. But there are groups for Wikings, Romans, 1940s (not Nazis, but music and clothing for example after the war.) Germanics and many more. I’m sure there are groups in the US reviving the civil war.

There are. It gets sometimes… problematic due to the participation of bad faith actors and dog whistling.

Even when this isn’t part of the mix, reliving various time periods can be seen as a straight white male fantasy, as many folks simply have no place in anything other than various stages of subjugation in most time periods other than the very recent past.

With that said, there are plenty of things to be fascinated in and potentially cosplay with. I just worry that slavish obedience to historical accuracy can be a dehumanizing experience for many people.

We can celebrate the diversity of history without excluding people.


I can understand the wish for accuracy. But when white Europeans can play Asians (which I am sure they do) then black people can play white roles and probably wheelchair drivers could play knights or similar. Etc. So I guess inclusion is (partially?) possible.

I don’t understand “bad faith actors” and “dog whistling”.

Agreed, when all parties actually agree to allow this to happen.

I don’t know how to explain this without causing this topic to spontaneously combust.


Various Nazis and racists like to dress up as Confederates and then pretend that they’re just fans of “history”. It’s not great!

“Historical accuracy” is often a funny thing, though – most modern folks’ conceptions of what the past was like are far more based on Hollywood than reality, and the people using “historical accuracy” as a cudgel to exclude people are generally unaware of stuff like the prevalence of nonwhite people in Roman society, for example (not that they’re likely to revise their views once the errors are pointed out to them…)

Anyway, there’s also American Revolution reenactors over here, which reminds me of this wild story I read the other day about an IHOP mogul going to war against bunch of those folks over a strip mall development in upstate New York:


Until you get a handle on this, you’ll have a hard time understanding some of the issues with this subject.


I think I understand now. Right wings who love the slave holding aspect of the southern states. In my country there isn’t such problem afaik. Because no one replays Nazis; and Middle Age replayers don’t go around and tell how inferior the Maurs etc. were (in their opinion). So I think in Germany reenactment is a bit more innocent, I guess. Of course you can imagine racism in reenacgment. But I hope that’s not the case.

Does this include other problematic epochs in the USA? I could imagine the Western genre has plenty of room for hate against American natives.


Ugh… you have no idea. There was a controversy I remember in school about parents complaining that “black cowboys weren’t historically accurate” because an African American classmate played the role of a cowboy in a school play. Ignoring the fact that they weren’t even correct, was their motivation with protesting the depiction of a ****** as a cowboy, which I heard with my own ears behind closed doors as a child.

Some people are vile and have caught the message that being overtly racist isn’t acceptable. So, instead of some lengthy introspection and personal growth, they find ways to imbed their world views into other topics. Nothing is off limits. Still shaking my head over Mr. Potato Head.


To this day in Texas, kids play “cowboys and Indians,” where the cowboys are the heroes for killing the bad Native Americans. The whole thing is an absolutely huge part of Texas’s identity, and I doubt very much that the narrative here will improve any time soon.


In the interest of balance and to head-off counter-arguments, this phenomenon can happen on the left as well. The most stereotypical are “tankies” being apologist/revisionist/dismissive of Soviet or Chinese historical purges involving the deaths of millions, or closet eco-terrorists encouraging policies likely leading to mass human suffering and depopulation to combat environmental woes. (Usually the latter is problematic due to the speed of the proposed change and indifference to consequences, not necessarily the change itself. Like switching to organic farming worldwide tomorrow is… ummm… probably unwise. Some are just ignorant, but you usually distinguish those who are acting in bad faith when you bring up the mass famine, and their answer is some form of “Well, good.”)

It’s why I used the term “bad faith” actors, because anyone can have an agenda.


Oddly, there’s a large-ish medieval re-enactment scene in Australia (the biggest annual event of which is Rowany Festival

I say oddly, because obviously we’re not re-enacting anything that actually happened in Australia, and what did happen in that period is not really open to re-enacting (not least because the traditional owners often still do the things).

There’s a huge focus on arts and crafts - lots of leather working, wood-working, blacksmithing and spinning, weaving etc (my wife is a full-time weaver so I might have a slightly distorted view of the importance of weaving :slight_smile:).

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In Italy, re-enactors can partecipate in nazi garment… at their own risk. extreme left assume bad actor faith as default, 'nuff said.

dog-whistling is whistling/booing against reenactors in “wrong” garments (e.g. nazi uniform), here is the gentler treatment to “bad actors”, but in the end, the, admittely uphill battle for decoupling Roman reenactment from the residuals of fascist propaganda was won, and leftists enjoy (and even partecipate…) the now-traditional 21 April reenactment parade in Rome, without whistling.

generally speaking, in Italy nazi equipment (the stereotypical “sidecar with (replica) MG”, for example), are admired by everyone, left, centre and right, esp. the authentic ones (minus MG, of course) and even privately-owned tanks (with armament deactivated, of course), but of course no one asked how happened in private hands…
(historical context: the end-war in Italy, April '45 was a real major mess, Italians (of both sides), allies and germans intermingled without a definite frontline aside that the germans attempted to either run for the beeline of the Brenner pass or surrender to Allies (surrendering to Italians possessed by furor Italicus was a deadly option in those days… go figure that a german unit even buyed their way to the brenner, (and their fraus and kinders) with the most coveted prize even for really PO italians, Mussolini… but is a still-unofficial side of military story…) and in that mess many military equipment, german and allied, “disappeared”… so no Italian gentlemen questions on how a german, or even allied, military vehicle ends being “family heirloom”… here allied & german tractors (artillery sense) became Italian tractors (agricultural sense)… (perhaps the old American trait “swords into ploughshares” helped in “acquiring” US equipment, esp. after the next May…)

sorry for being a mil/Nav historian, and
Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.

When I was a kid, when we played “cowboy amd indian” none in my clique wanted to be the cowboys because we were aware what the invaders did to the natives. Maybe because of the German western author Karl May.

Unfortunately we still DO have Nazis nowadays in Germany. But if they would use reenactment for propaganda, police would stop them.

Most Reenactment in Germany is Middle Ages, Romans and a bit Germanics and very little others.

I would like to reenact, but I personally strongly dislike live action role playing (LARP). Both are similar, yes, but I don’t like LARP.


Realizing belatedly that this is an English idiom that doesn’t always translate well.

If you want a sense of how ugly it can get, scroll down the the US - 20th Century section where Lee Atwater says the quiet part out loud.


The area of Texas I live in was Comanche territory, and the Comanches were so effective against the (mostly German) settlers here that it’s a miracle any settlers stayed, because life here meant that sooner or later the Comanches would deal with you, and it would be terrifying and deadly. The situation was so dire that the US government was close to simply ceding large parts of Texas to the Comanches when the six-shooter was invented. Previously, the Comanches had the upper hand because they could shoot so many arrows from horseback in a few minutes, and the settlers and Texas rangers could not compete. The Comanches were arguably the best light cavalry the world has ever seen, they were absolutely committed to the death and destruction of the invaders, and if it weren’t for the invention of better guns at that time (and smallpox), they would have won the state.

There’s a long memory here of that time, and so a lot of people here still take pleasure in stories of winning the war against American Indians.


sorry for piping again as mil historian, but you’re correct about better guns, but in the comache War, the better guns was the breech-loading single-shot rifle, not the six-shooter revolver, because bows & arrows outrange the six-shooters but not the breech-loading rifle (curious note, US Army was very late in adopting repeating rifles, with the Krag rifle aka. Springfield 1892)

Tangentially, one must compare the comanche war with the contemporary NZ war: Maori’s quickness in understanding and finding effective measures against the much more advanced British weaponry was an unicum of technical intelligence in military history.

Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.

ps. for PinkUnz: thanks for explaining “dog whistle”. I reckon that my interpretation is wrong, but remains true that reenacting in WW2 german uniform here, one is lucky if he’s whistled & booed…