History as a Cultural Playground


There is growing belief within the discipline of cultural studies that heritage no longer relates to our historical past, but attempts to recreate a mythological past. We are witnessing a progressive process in which the Land of the Past is changing into the Land of the Different, a world which may well be charged with moral messages; an arena designed to create random continuity and cultural identities, a past designed to provide experiences and identities. A past intended to convince through its credibility rather than its genuineness, to be experienced rather than understood.

In order to discuss what happens in this ”muddled past”, in the transition between history and heritage, this article focus on the specific praxis that makes the Lands of the Past materialise. Detailed, first-hand descriptions and interpretations of how school children encounter, perceive, and invest two Norwegian historical parks with significance, play with traditions, consume and practice heritage, and make the past happen. To establish further knowledge regarding the cultural processes associated with modernity’s relationship with the past, comparative analysis of the traditional museums is also taken into the discussions.

How to Cite

Hjemdahl, K. M., (2002) “History as a Cultural Playground”, Ethnologia Europaea 32(2), 105-124. doi: https://doi.org/10.16995/ee.934

Publisher Notes

  • This article was previously published by Museum Tusculanum Press.


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Kristi Mathiesen Hjemdahl (University of Bergen)



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