The politics of musical reenactment
Ozment, Elizabeth Whittenburg
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The Politics of Musical Reenactment: Civil War Commemoration in American Culture explores how Americans have used music to represent the U.S. Civil War. Music contributes to the construction and presentation of competing historical narratives about this war, each of which is used to position a particular community at the fore of American cultural identity. Through ethnographic study and musical analysis of a mock slave auction, folk opera, brass band revival, war reenactment, YouTube videos, laser show, and amusement park, this study demonstrates how musical reenactments perform race, class, gender, ethnicity, and citizenship in ways that suppress or resist the power of other social groups through the control of historical knowledge. The specific past that a community chooses to present evidences how it envisions itself in relationship to others. Whether or not these productions are a form of conflict resolution, they capture a snapshot of our current state and provide direction as to what people wish to become.