A very special place. The cultural centre of Cerisy la Salle is renowned venue for intellectual gatherings in France. Picture yourself in that old castle with scholars, experts and professors for a complete week attending lectures, discussing, and sharing life in a very large domain lost in Normandy, away from phone and internet connection.
Martial Poirson (University of Paris) and Estelle Doudet (University of Gernoble and Lausanne) organised a conference about reenactment, bringing together renowned scholars, museum professionals, experts in theatre, dance, cinema, but also historical reenactment, including martial artists, riders and costume specialists. We spent days between workshop including papers and experiences, we watched movies and performances and spent long nights exchanging about concepts of re-enacting the past. A very good mix enriched our experiences from the point of view of museum practice, entertainment industry, art, academic research from different perspective such as sociology, anthropology, history of art, history and performance studies (mainly theatre and dance).
A very rich program program indeed as you can see here
I had the pleasure of offering both a lecture about Historical European Martial Arts, but also a 2 hours workshop where both professors, students and experts went explored the dagger plays of an early fifteenth century fight book (Fiore dei Liberi). It was originally planned as workshop in collaboration with my colleague Pierre-Henry Bas, but he could not come and Dr. Audrey Tuaillon Démesy (University of Besançon) saved the day and helped me to get through this adventure, as a fellow HEMA practitioner, but also as one of the best sociologist looking into HEMA communities.
Aside of good memories, enjoyable experiences, and intense intellectual exchanges, what I take out of this week is an enriched perspective about re-enacting the past as a research endeavour, but also as a museum practice and as an “industry” with specific needs away from academic research for public outreach. We fought with definitions and concepts such as re-enacting, re-staging, re-constructing, and evocation. These subtle levels, who are well known and matter for historical European martial artists, need to be better explained to academic researchers and museums. There are multiple endeavours following this path, similar conferences in these past two or three years. I have organised such a conference in 2014 in Geneva, and I know of similar attempts in Germany, Italy, and France. Thank you Martial and Estelle!