Institute of Para-Enactment Research
Softcore Historicism and Embodied Heritage



The term folklore was first coined by cultural historian William John Thomas in an article in 1846 to define  "traditional beliefs and customs of the common people".  The term is a combination of the terms folc ,"common people, laity; men; people, nation, tribe; multitude; troop, army", and  lar , "learning, what is taught, knowledge, science, doctrine; art or act of teaching".

References to the knowledges of the peoples  where already present specially in the  German-speaking –„Volksüberlieferung“– through the works of Johann Gottfried Herder, who started to use terms such as “ folksong ” , “ folk soul ” or “ folk belief ”, or the recollection of oral histories by the  the Grimms brothers.

The term ‘folklore’, also identified with ‘traditional and popular culture’ was defined by UNESCO in 1989 in their "Recommendation on the Safeguarding of Traditional Culture and Folklore" as follows:
‘Folklore (or traditional and popular culture) is the totality of tradition-based creations of a cultural community, expressed by a group or individuals and recognized as reflecting the expectations of a community in so far as they reflect its cultural and social identity; its standards and values are transmitted orally, by imitation or by other means. Its forms are, among others, language, literature, music, dance, games, mythology, rituals, customs, handicrafts, architecture and other arts’.

The filed of folklore brought wider  academic attention specially after WWII, where folklorist and folklore studies developed in response to the fears that pre-industrial cultures (language, customs, practices of everyday life) were either disappearing or were threatened by external forces.

Looking to the framework of folclore studies, as a branch of anthropology, helps to consider the ways in which reenactmnts work as contemporary rituals (Martin Segalen), operate as new forms of tradition (Eric Hobsbawm y Terence Ranger), and are manifestations of contemporary popular culture ( Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer).

︎︎︎Hobsbawm, E. J., and T. O. Ranger, eds. The Invention of Tradition. Canto Classics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

︎︎︎Segalen, Martine. Ritos y rituales contemporneos, 2014.

︎︎︎Noeri, Gunzelin Schmid, ed. “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception.” In Dialectic of Enlightenment, 94–136. Stanford University Press, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1515/9780804788090-007.

︎︎︎The Athenaeum of August 22, 1846, p. 862 f.; According to R. Troy Boyer: The Forsaken Founder, William John Thoms. From Antiquities to Folklore. Terre Haute ( Indiana ) 1997, p. 55.


︎︎︎ Berlin, 2022

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