History's affective turn: Historical reenactment and its work in the present

The article argues that contemporary reenactment is indicative of history's recent affective turn, i.e. of historical representation characterized by conjectural interpretations of the past, the collapsing of temporalities and an emphasis on affect, individual experience and daily life rather than historical events, structures and processes. The affective turn signals a break with the kind of ethical and political responsibilities that adhered to some postwar historiography. The article makes this argument in reference to recent German historical reality television series, including Abenteuer 1900, Abenteuer 1927, and Windstarke 8: Das Auswandererschiff While their format is similar to that of the Wall to Wall House series, resulting in a certain leveling of historical and geographical specificity, the article shows that the German reenactment series use history as a conceit for performing a particular form of cultural and political work-the attempt to reconcile current economic and social conditions in postunification Germany (Gegenwartsbewaltigung). The article concludes by emphasizing the necessity for continued scholarly interrogation of reenactment's epistemological and political claims.