I wrote a few weeks back about a major blowup that happened in the historical costuming community, when a prominent member outed herself as a bigot. This is only one of many recent events that seem to be constantly shaking this subculture, likely as its membership grows and changes, and as it responds more to and reflects more the social issues that are on everyone’s lips these days. As Bo Burnham has observed, the outcome of all this pain and consternation is more content. Lots and lots of videos about racism, whitewashing, colonialism, and of course the global system of capitalism. Those videos all essentially express the same message: history, especially European and North American history, is not as white as we have been told, and we need to reflect that more, even in play.Read More
It might sound like I’m making a value judgment here, that traditional is better than historical. Really, I’m arguing for an awareness of context. There are some traditions that don’t exist anymore. There are some things that really are gone. But it’s not as much as you think. Participating in history, appreciating history, shouldn’t come with a disregard for the present. My point is that before you label something as historical, limited to the past, you should investigate whether it actually still exists in some form in the present.
There is a conflict bubbling between professional and amateur historians over directly addressing current social issues when talking about history. On one side, people who enjoy hearing about topics like the ins and outs of the Roman Empire claim that there is an unbiased way to present history, without judgement from the present. On the other side, people who write the stories of these topics claim that it’s important to understand the complexity of the past and that all history is biased. I’m not going to make any pretense toward a both sides argument here. History is biased and political, and everyone needs to know that.Read More
How the digital age is democratizing history, and spreading misinformation.
A lot more than names and dates. Read More
Does it, though?
In the digital age, it’s easy to forget that even records have bias. Read More