På den tiden, i dessa dagar : Föreställningar om och bruk av historia vid Medeltidsveckan på Gotland och Jamtli Historieland

Sammanfattning: The aim of my thesis is to see what kinds of ideas people have about history and how they make use of it. How do people believe life was in the old days? What kind of past do they like? What do they want history for? Questions like these are answered through interviews with visitors at the Medieval Week on Gotland and at Jamtli Historieland, an open-air museum in Östersund. Besides the interviews, I have also made use of other material, such as discussion forums on the Internet, and my own observations of what visitors do, when they do it, and with whom.Those I have talked consider life in the past as pretty awful – people back then were poor, ill, oppressed and worn out by hard labour. On the other hand they believe that people in the past had more time to socialize with family and friends, they were surrounded with more beautiful things and they showed greater handiness than we do today. The immediate associations to past epochs are however much more positive. For most of those I have interviewed, the Middle Ages are a glamorous period with gallant knights and fair ladies. They don’t believe in this picture as the real thing, but they prefer to imagine and use it since it after all is a more pleasant idea that the one with poor, hungry and oppressed people. Thus we can observe a notion of a double past – a glorious past that are not really believed in, and a horrendous history that are thought to be the truth.When using history at the two events I have studied it is, not surprisingly, the more pleasant past that is most prominent. Both the Medieval Week and Jamtli Historieland are activities visited on vacations, when people wish to be enjoying themselves. Thus history is being used as a way to socialize with family and friends, old and new ones. Especially at Jamtli Historieland, history is also a trigger for own memories of childhood and youth. People visiting the museum, recognises items from the past and thus begin remembering – often together with other visitors. The Medieval Week also fills the need of living outside society’s ordinary expectations. Some of the younger visitors appreciate the freedom they are granted during the week, freedom to be improperly dressed, drunk in early afternoon and having to do nothing useful.

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