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Crafting The Indian

Crafting The Indian: Knowledge, Desire, and Play in Indianist Reenactment

Petra Tjitske Kalshoven
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Crafting The Indian
    Book Description:

    In Europe, Indian hobbyism, or Indianism, has developed out of a strong fascination with Native American life in the 18th and 19th centuries. "Indian hobbyists" dress in homemade replicas of clothing, craft museum-quality replicas of artifacts, meet in fields dotted with tepees and reenact aspects of North American Indian lifeworlds, using ethnographies, travel diaries, and museum collections as resources. Grounded in fieldwork set among networks of Indian hobbyists in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and the Czech Republic, this ethnography analyzes this contemporary practice of serious leisure with respect to the general human desire for play, metaphor, and allusion. It provides insights into the increasing popularity of reenactment practices as they relate to a deeper understanding of human perception, imagination, and creativity.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-345-7
    Subjects: Anthropology, Art & Art History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. viii-ix)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. x-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-7)

    My first live experience with “Indian hobbyists” in a camp setting took place at the annual Indian Days event in a palisaded enclosure near a village just outside of Frankfurt, in theBundeslandof Hessen, Germany, during a preliminary research trip in September 2002. Wisps of smoke and oddly familiar drumming sounds escaped from the carefully guarded site in the tidy German countryside as I parked my car at a respectful distance on the edge of a field yellow with cole seed. Excitement mingled with dread as I faced the prospect of meeting a tribe of amateurs portraying North American life...

  6. CHAPTER 1 Setting the Stage: Indianism and What It Is Not
    (pp. 8-46)

    All over Europe, passionate amateurs invest time, effort, and love in re-creating scenes from a Native American past. Most numerous and active in Germany, these so-called Indian hobbyists or Indianists draw on ethnographies of North American Indians, travel diaries, paintings and photographs, how-to books, and faraway and perhaps imaginary landscapes and role models to sustain what has become an epistemological and performative practice with its own local traditions and dynamics. Organized in more or less tightly knit play communities, Indian hobbyists manufacture, display, wear, and use homemade replicas of eighteenth-or nineteenth-century garb and artifacts on “playgrounds” dotted with tepees (illus....

  7. CHAPTER 2 Indian Hobbies, European Contexts: History, Historiography, Ethnography
    (pp. 47-73)

    Czech hobbyists typing out translations of books about Native America and duplicating their work in secret on decrepit copying machines behind the iron curtain; German Indianists tending to the grave of Lakota chief and Circus Sarrasani performer Edward Two-Two, who fell ill on tour in 1914 and asked to be buried in Dresden; a Finn being initiated into the Kit Fox Society to make up for a recent walkout of warriors and rekindle the spirit of Indianism in Finland: the Indian hobby takes inspiration not only from imagined pasts elsewhere, but also from its own local histories, from Indianist lore...

  8. CHAPTER 3 “Is This Play?” Reframing Metaphoric Action on Indianist Playgrounds
    (pp. 74-124)

    On a summer evening in 2003, I was part of a big circle of people wrapped in Hudson’s Bay point blankets sitting in a meadow bordered by tepees in the Belgian Ardennes, the site for that year’s Buffalo Days Camp (BDC). I had spent a few days as the guest of a group of Indianists, and as this tribal council marked the end of a two-week camping event, I thought it was the appropriate moment for me to rise and thank them for their hospitality. Rather than the obligatory display of courteous nods I expected, my gesture provoked a debate...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Amateurs at Work: Modes of Knowledge Making and Remaking
    (pp. 125-180)

    The Indian hobbyist phenomenon regularly features as light, colorful fare in local newspapers when a club organizes a public event. Portrayed as an innocuous and entertaining oddity, it is sometimes presented as a curiosity that might shed light on German identity: I was approached twice by German magazines asking me for an explanation of the topic, once in a special issue about foreign perspectives on German culture, and the second time in a special issue about “Indians” on the occasion of the German opening of the movieThe New World(Terrence Malick, 2005). In North America, European (in particular German)...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Shifting Selves around Authentic Replicas: Crafting the Past into the Present
    (pp. 181-221)

    Indianist learning efforts are guided by a desire for authentic performance.According to many Indianists, authenticity plays an increasingly important role as a criterion to distinguish “good hobbyists” from carnival clubs. In this chapter, I will explore what Indianist use of “the authentic” may tell us about the identities that are involved in the practice of Indianism. As I showed in the previous chapter, the semantic load of the authentic tends to vary with the adopted way of practicing Indianism. In the collational mode, emphasis is on historically correct display; in the translational mode, hobbyists privilege an experience grounded in personal...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Matter, Metaphor, Miniature: Marvels of the Model
    (pp. 222-255)

    As we funneled into the exhibition rooms through a dimly lit corridor, we came upon a high glass case containing a magnificent headdress—not the model with vertically pointing feathers for which the Blackfoot are known, but the “typical” shape signaling the familiar Plains Indian. My companion recognized it immediately as a loan from the ethnology museum in Leiden. Our encounter with this headdress took place in October 2003 in an art museum, the Kunsthal (Art Hall) in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, where “290 authentieke voorwerpen” (290 authentic objects) introduced us toIndianen: De wereld van de Zwartvoet Indianen(Indians: The...

  12. APPENDIX. Missouri River Story: A Tale of Playing for High Stakes
    (pp. 256-259)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 260-274)
  14. Index
    (pp. 275-287)