Mobile monuments: A view of historical reenactment and authenticity from inside the costume cupboard of history

Reenactment is an increasingly popular cultural practice that appears to offer participants and audiences authentic experiences and representations of history. Gapps is an historian who has participated in and coordinated many reenactments including the 'Battles' of Vinegar Hill, Waterloo, Trafalgar, Hastings and Gettysburg. This article is an exploration of the central tenet of reenactment - 'authenticity' - from an insider's perspective. Gapps suggests that the performance of history has been largely dismissed by cultural critics as a form of nostalgia, but that it actually has a significant role to offer - particularly as a form of public commemoration of shared remembrance of historical events. He notes that reenactors' self-reflective attention to historical accuracy in performance is a key element in the practice of reenactment that can generate historical understanding. Unlike monuments, reenactments have the potential to create more open ended and contextual historical commemorations.