Call for contributors for an edited volume on Agricultural Reenactment
Call for Papers Date:
Call for Contributors, Agricultural Reenactment: Re-staging Rural Life
Original chapter proposals are invited for an edited volume on “agricultural reenactment”, to be included in a series on Reenactment History published by Palgrave Macmillan UK (http://www.palgrave.com/products/series.aspx?s=REH). The volume will define agricultural reenactment in broad terms, to include any practical or experimental effort to mobilize the history of agricultural and rural life for contemporary ends. As with reenactment history more generally, these efforts often result in unexpected outcomes, and indeed that is often the point. From living history farms to reality television programs, from the revival of artisanal cheese-making methods to the renewed popularity of farming with horses, this collection will consider agricultural reenactment as a way of examining not just contemporary attitudes toward our agricultural past but also the status of history within agricultural practice. Why is agricultural reenactment history so popular? What are its strengths and limitations? What does it have to teach us about past cultural moments? What is its power as a critique of the present?
One distinctive aspect of agricultural reenactment is that, more than other forms of reenactment, it seeks practical outcomes for use in the present. Military reenactments are not generally expected to yield insights for contemporary warfare, and yet agricultural reenactment is frequently justified in terms of the insights it can offer on today’s agricultural concerns. As Joan Thirsk has shown, agriculture’s history has long figured among the richest sources of its own oppositional energies; it is thus perhaps not surprising that agricultural reenactment efforts are often framed in terms of a search for lost or endangered standards of sustainability, health, taste, or quality. While remaining interested in questions of authenticity, agricultural reenactment is thus more amenable to productive blendings of former and current materials, methods and technologies.
A second distinctive feature of agricultural reenactment is its role within the history of open-air museums. Although from their origins in the late 19th century open-air museums had strong leanings in favor of the evocation of agrarian life, most efforts to recreate actual working farms within open-air museums only date to the 1970s. Once such efforts were begun, however, they proved to be both fruitful of new approaches within agrarian history and among the most appealing elements in the open-air museum repertoire. What do the lessons of agricultural reenactment have to teach us about reenactment history more broadly? What is the status of agricultural experimentation within agricultural reenactment? How have the terms of agricultural reenactment shifted as the number of farmers has declined? How are living history farms responding to the mounting current interest in food and agriculture?
Contributors making use of historical, social science, and literary critical approaches are welcome, and chapters may focus on any geographic region(s) or historical moment(s). Possible topics may include (but are not limited to):
- agricultural & rural history “reality” television programs
- living history farms & agricultural museums
- the preservation & use of heirloom plant varieties & rare breeds of livestock
- old threshers reunions & other gatherings & demonstrations of old agricultural equipment
- the revival, creation & maintenance of “traditional” agrarian festivals
- reinventions of tradition associated with specific foods & other agricultural products (including protected geographical indications & other labels)
- studies of Plain communities & other groups choosing to farm with “old-fashioned” technologies
- uses of history within alternative farming movements
- representations of agricultural change within farm memoirs & farm fiction
Initial abstracts of 300-500 words are requested by 1 August 2012; full chapter submissions by 1 January. Chapters should be 8,000 to 9,000 words long and may be accompanied by up to five black & white images. The target date for submission of the full manuscript to Palgrave is 1 May 2013, at which point it will be subject to external review. Materials and any questions should be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
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