August 11, 2020

Historical recreation, a trip to other times and a way of learning

History, as we know it today, from the beginning of humanity to the present day, through some periods such as the Roman Empire, the two World Wars that blurred the twentieth century or the Middle Ages, we have learned thanks to books , visits to museums, articles or documentaries about different times of life.

All these ways of knowing our past have in common that they have been read, visualized or heard and have been disseminated among people, which convey their interpretation of the events that occurred. Beyond those mechanisms, there is historical recreation, a different way of learning history.

Historical recreation is a way of time travel. It makes you live history as if you moved from one era to another. It is a plus more than history books, a kind of virtual reality. “History is something alive. You can read a book or watch a movie, but they may have mistakes. Recreation is to tell it in a more coherent way ”, as defined by Gonzalo González, of the Ulver Knights Historical Recreation Association.

Gonzalo is the president of this association, which has been operating since 2009 and covers from the ninth century to the beginning of the seventeenth century, that is, much of the Middle Ages and some of the Modern Age. “We try to teach the time in a different way. We reconstruct what we have testimonies or sources and try to get people to learn history by seeing and listening to us. ”

In recreation, historical rigor is very important, and one of its maxims is research, since in history every year new evidence of past times appears. Thus, one difference is that while books, films or documentaries may become obsolete in the face of new historical discoveries, recreation can remedy that problem.

“Recreation is quite impressive, but it takes time. We do not have a guide on how they were back then and it is very important that we investigate, ”says Iago Rodríguez, coordinator of Legion XI Claudia Pía Fidelis of Spain, which recreates the time of the Roman Empire focusing on the first century A.D. and sometimes in the fourth century. This association emerged in July 2018, although many of them come from other associations and have been recreating for more years. For example, Iago has been eleven years old. "We try to get into the mentality of the Roman soldier of this legion as much as we can."

However, recreation is very similar to the theater. The differences, although they may seem simple, are complicated to understand, which makes them tend to include both in the same bag. “The real function of the theater is entertainment, while in recreation it is the empirical teaching of history,” that is the main difference for Jonathan Bar, head of Fuliers Chasseurs Madrid, which recreates the Napoleonic period between 1790 and 1815. The curiosity of this association is that its origin lies in the union of a group of university students belonging to the Faculty of Geography and History of the Complutense University of Madrid. They were founded in 2017, but they act as an association since this year. All with the eagerness to investigate about Napoleon's Europe. “In addition, the theater has a script. Everything is premeditated and they have no historical rigor, or it is very difficult for them to have it. That is why our research is important, to document us in a broader way and to take every detail millimeter by millimeter into account, however small ”.

And not only with the theater, because historical recreation is also compared to a costume party. Alberto Puig, of the Red Storm Cultural Historical Association, formed in the summer of 2018 and that includes the entire Cold War period, talks about the problems that this comparison involves: “Recreation in Spain is everywhere. On the one hand, the typical comment of the general public that sees us as a set of disguised geeks that will make frikadas to the forests. From the academic level, they also think that this is like a costume party because it is nothing scientific. ”

Both comparisons mean that recreation is not taken seriously, probably one of the biggest problems this discipline has. Another problem is that recreation meets two types of reenactors: those who are more purist and recreate being thorough with details, and the so-called FARBS, which either due to ignorance or indifference, take very little care of the historical rigor that would keep them from the recreation itself and would be more limited to the theatrical scope, which harms the historical rigor. “Recreation is a hobby, everyone recreates in their own way. Although there are some who try to make this a type of role-playing game, others try to theatricalize a fact without being careful with historical rigor … But that is not recreation as such, ”concludes Iago.

The failures greatly harm that rigor we are talking about, and it is very important to be involved in the era that is recreated in every way: “You see many who appear with a digital clock and even with glasses. These mistakes spoil the recreation, so you don't immerse yourself at the time, ”says Alberto. Or age, because the average in Fuliers Chasseurs Madrid It is between eighteen and thirty, a fairly young rank that can make them see them as under-experienced: "It is something I will never understand, because the intensity of things that are done more than time matters," laments Jonathan.

Although the biggest drawback, without a doubt, is that of financing. It is complicated that municipalities or other institutions finance these associations based on the above, that they do not end up being taken seriously or that they do not see it as an investment. In most cases, everything they do comes out of the pockets of the reenactors themselves. Or if they order an item outside of Spain or the European Union, as in the case of Red Storm, they meet customs and may find that they lack things or, on the other hand, they fall for some unfair sanction. And, in addition, what it can cost you a suit, shield, sword, helmet or any utensil that is used to recreate, if you take care of the details, it tends to have a somewhat high price. "It's not a cheap hobby," adds Oscar Garansky, a member of Northwest Paratroops, a historical recreation group that recreates American paratroopers in World War II.

This group (which does not associate, because they are considered to be only a group of friends) was created in summer 2016 among people who had common ideas and who tried to live similar experiences to the life of a soldier of the 101st Division of States United, as well as touring the places they went through in 1944. “We care a lot about the details, that's why we run away from the public, because I think it's very difficult to achieve historical rigor. In addition, there will always be people who have a different vision. Therefore, we seek personal satisfaction rather than make the group known. We get together to represent the whole unit and its battles. For example, some of us have been to Normandy, ”says Oscar.

Within the world of reenactors, there are different ways of working by associations. Talks, exhibitions, training … and the main course, events. Although they are not always open to the public, as some prefer to do some more events in the private sphere. And all of them as such are free. It is a difference that keeps with the other means to learn history: nobody pays to see what they did, how they did it or what happened in an earlier time. Something that, despite its obstacles, can play a lot in its favor. For Iago, all these forms must be free. “History is something that belongs to all of us. We don't think you have to pay a ticket to see us. ” And is that the reenactors are like teachers, they teach, in a more dynamic way.

Wilhelm Dilthey said that in order to understand an era one should not study it, but live it. Recreation takes you to it. And not only from the military point of view, but also from the civil point of view. Your five senses will enter a reality that goes beyond the representation of a part of the past.

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