Kari Sperring on why history isn’t a theme park


OK, it’s late, and I have a backlog of other stuff, but…

You should really go read Kari Sperring’s post on history and why it matters to people.

Here’s my point. History is not a theme park. It’s not a story, either. It’s people’s real lives. If you’re going to write about it, about any part of it, you need to do your homework properly, you need to be respectful, because — as Ms Willis did with me — otherwise, you’re going to find someone’s sore place, someone’s vulnerability, someone’s sacred or difficult or secret thing, and you’re going to do damage. Other countries aren’t theme parks, either, nor museums, nor big bags of useful resources. They’re homes to millions, they’re people’s lives, too.

And while I’m talking about this, let’s have a look at another phrase I’m seeing a lot lately, ‘Eurocentric fantasy’. This, as far as I can tell, means fantasies set in backgrounds drawn from a sort of default idea of mediaeval Europe (usually Western Europe at that). I understand what people mean by this, and what they are thinking about. The thing is, as a European myself, these fantasies don’t feel ‘Eurocentric’ to me. They don’t feel like Europe at all, they feel like a mix of 50s Hollywood historicals and Las Vegas, they are theme park fantasies — right up there with that ‘England’ where everyone is either Hugh Grant or a Cockney, and we have names like Rupert and Gwendolen

(comments disabled because the discussion should really be happening over there, but yes. Yes. Yes)


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