Kamila Baraniecka-Olszewska, On the Performative Power of Stereotypes: WWII Historical Re-enactment and National Identities

Kamila Baraniecka-Olszewska - Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences
p. 51-61
Online publication date: 
historical reenactment, historical policy, national identity, performativity

The article discusses how the WWII historical reenactments in Poland contribute to the construction of national identities. The current political situation, where Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party supports specific interpretations of the past and intensively promotes these in the public space, the activities of historical reenactors are often read through the prism of the party’s political activity. In a similar way, collective identity projects performed in historical reenactments are understood. In contemporary Polish social life WWII history constitutes a very strong political and symbolical capital. Representing war events, reenactments and reenactors place themselves in the very centre of debates on contemporary visions of the past and identities related to them. This article focuses primarily on describing how the stereotype attributed to the WWII historical reenactments influences the perception of this phenomenon by the audience and shapes their sense of national identity.