Reenactors and Wikipedia

Kowalczyk’s article seemed to be overly judgmental of the reenactors.  He seemed to spend much of the piece taking subtle and not so subtle digs at their appearance, personalities and motivations.  Many of the “insights” in the article seemed to be inferred without substantiation.  While reenacting is not something that I choose to do, I don’t feel that it is detrimental to the practice of history.  The subtitle of the article asks the question “why?” reenactors recreate these battles…”why not?”  might be a better question to ask.  History is not our exclusive domain.

Little’s critique of Kowalczyk’s article poses some interesting questions regarding why certain events, normally conflicts, are commemorated through reenactments while other more mundane or controversial aspects are ignored.  It would seem that events that are viewed as turning points, such as battles, provide the easiest historical rallying point.  I would also argue that so much of the history that has been produced has been focused on these events that there is an overwhelming amount of information for reenactors to draw upon.

Levin’s article on the Sons of Confederate Veterans highlights problems that most organizations have to face…how best to engage the younger generation.  SCV has the added layer of racism (actual or perceived) and “loser” status to overcome.  Ignoring the Confederate aspect, the issues raised can apply to history in general. “Their members and patrons manifest a belief at one level or another that we are compelled to remember the past and place our own lives within a broader narrative. And in doing so, they believe that our lives and those of our communities are greatly enriched.”

Cohen’s article on the Wikipedia Gender Gap raises interesting questions about the disparity between the representation of men and women on Wikipedia.  However, the topics that are highlighted in the article as being “girl” topics seem to also lend themselves to widening the gender gap.  Suggesting that friendship bracelets vs. baseball cards is a fair comparison is troubling.

Messer-Kruse’s article on “undue weight” and Famiglietti’s on consensus present one of the most troubling aspects of Wikipedia, especially in terms of history.  The frequency with which Wikipedia is viewed to be the “gospel” truth in matters of history is particularly overwhelming.  When confronted with the myriad of historical inaccuracies on Wikipedia, the prospect of “fixing” it is exhausting.

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