Playing Ourselves / Edition 1

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Across North America, hundreds of reconstructed 'living history' sites, which traditionally presented history from a primarily European perspective, have hired Native staff in an attempt to communicate a broader view of the past. Playing Ourselves explores this major shift in representation, using detailed observations of five historic sites in the U.S. and Canada to both discuss the theoretical aspects of Native cultural performance and advise interpreters and their managers on how to more effectively present an inclusive history. Drawing on anthropology, history, cultural performance, cross-cultural encounters, material culture theory, and public history, author Laura Peers examines 'living history' sites as locations of cultural performance where core beliefs about society, cross-cultural relationships, and history are performed. In the process, she emphasizes how choices made in the communication of history can both challenge these core beliefs about the past and improve cross-cultural relations in the present.

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Editorial Reviews

...the subject of the work is so fascinating and Peers' arguments so cogent that it needs to be on the "must read" list of anyone involved, however peripherally, in historic reconstructions.
Museum, May 2008 - White Wolf James
Peer's extensive archival research and interviews with staff and visitors give us a better understanding of how Native histories are produced and negotiated....Playing Ourselves should be required reading for all museum studies students and professionals...
Museum Anthropology Review
Peers' work is a valuable contribution to the literature on the representation of Native peoples. . . . Peers' work is well-balanced, and readers from a variety of fields . . . will find much here to appreciate.
Great Plains Quarterly, Spring 2009 - Sandra Dudley
This is essentially a book about encounters: encounters between Native interpreters and visitors at historic sites, of course—but also encounters between differing preconceptions of history, between ways of life, between people and things, and between the present and the past. Laura Peers succeeds in exploring a number of questions concerning the development, aims, politics, agency, and multiple contexts and interpretations of the historical representations negotiated at these sites. A greatly enjoyable and very readable book.
Amy Lonetree
The inclusion of Native American interpreters and their perspective has the potential to make significant changes to the manner in which First Nations/Native History is presented, and to the public’s understanding of Native-white relations at fur trade and mission sites. . . . Peers’ study captures the complexities of how these histories are negotiated and produced, and provides insights on their impact at shaping the public’s understanding of Native American history.
Pauline Turner Strong
Playing Ourselves offers a lively, sophisticated, and trenchant account of the movement to include Native interpreters and perspectives in living history museums in the U.S. and Canada. Focusing on five historical sites in the Great Lakes region, Peers reveals how stereotypes are both reproduced and subverted in encounters between visitors and Native interpreters. In its emphasis on the agency of indigenous interpreters, this book is a welcome contribution to the scholarly literature on cultural tourism, cultural performance, museum representation, and contemporary indigenous life. I look forward to sharing Playing Ourselves with my students in anthropology, performance studies, museum studies, and Native American Studies.
January/February 2008 Muse
...the subject of the work is so fascinating and Peers' arguments so cogent that it needs to be on the "must read" list of anyone involved, however peripherally, in historic reconstructions.
Andrew Jolivette
A much-needed analysis of the difficult tensions involved in cultural exchange, interpretation, and in our understanding of authority and power as they relate to ethnic and historic representation.
October 2008 Museum Anthropology Review
Peers' work is a valuable contribution to the literature on the representation of Native peoples. . . . Peers' work is well-balanced, and readers from a variety of fields . . . will find much here to appreciate.
Public Historian
The author's methodology is consistent with the highest standards of anthropological practices. We are impessed with Peer's commitment to long-term analysis. This is one of the book's strengths. Peer's rapport with her informants, established through years of follow-up fieldwork, directly benefits the research and reader alike and helps create a sense of confidence in the content. This book is academic yet accessible, and we highly recommended it.
Material Culture
Peers has produced a very important analysis….There can be no question that Laura Peers' Playing Ourselves is worthy of serious attention from a wide range of material culture, historic site, museum, tourism, and both Native and non-Native practitioners.
Anthropology Of Work Review
Playing Ourselves speaks to the contemporary politics of representation across cultural divides…. This book is mandatory reading for anyone interested in the complex negotiations that take place during processes of representing 'the Other' at cultural tourism sites and their implications for shifting power relationships.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Laura Peers is lecturer in anthropology, curator of the Americas Collections at the Pitt River Museum, and fellow at Linacre College, University of Oxford.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Vignette: Ruth Christie Chapter 2 Introduction Chapter 3 1. Landscapes Chapter 4 2. Cosmologies Chapter 5 Vignette: Nokie Chapter 6 3. Anishinaabeg Chapter 7 Vignette: "What's This?" Chapter 8 4. Authenticities and Materialities Chapter 9 Vignette: Bob and Betty Visit Fort William Chapter 10 5. Visitors Chapter 11 6. Encounters and Borderlands Chapter 12 Vignette: Angelique Chapter 13 7. The Living and the Dead: Conclusions Chapter 15 References Cited

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 9, 2014

    Lovely...! beautiful.....!.... Just enjoy it.....!

    Lovely...! beautiful.....!.... Just enjoy it.....!

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    Posted July 9, 2014

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