Cultural History, Ritual and Performance: George L. Mosse in Context

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Burke, Peter 

jats:p George L. Mosse took a ‘cultural turn’ in the latter part of his career, but still early enough to make a pioneering contribution to the study of political culture and in particular what he called political ‘liturgy’, including marches, processions, and practices of commemoration. He adapted to the study of nationalism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the approach to the history of ritual developed by historians of medieval and early modern Europe, among them his friend Ernst Kantorowicz. More recently, the concept of ritual, whether religious or secular, has been criticized by some cultural historians on the grounds that it implies a fixed ‘script’ in situations that were actually marked by fluidity and improvisation. In this respect cultural historians have been part of a wider trend that includes sociologists and anthropologists as well as theatre scholars and has been institutionalized as Performance Studies. Some recent studies of contemporary nationalism in Tanzania, Venezuela and elsewhere have adopted this perspective, emphasizing that the same performance may have different meanings for different sections of the audience. It is only to be regretted that Mosse did not live long enough to respond to these studies and that their authors seem unaware of his work. </jats:p>

4303 Historical Studies, 43 History, Heritage and Archaeology
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Journal of Contemporary History
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SAGE Publications
Embargo: ends 2021-02-20