University of Wisconsin Press colophon



University of Wisconsin Madison crest that links to main university site

Association of University Presses member logo that links to main AUPresses site



Catalog Archive / Fall 2019

Blood Brothers and Peace Pipes
Performing the Wild West in German Festivals

“With ethnographic sensitivity and a sharp analytical eye, Weber manages to grasp, contextualize, and interpret the enthusiasm surrounding the phenomenon of Karl May festivals in Germany. This study explains why Germans loved and still love the strange stories about Winnetou, the Wild West, and outdoor theater at the same time.”
—Silke Meyer, Innsbruck University

Nineteenth-century writer Karl May wrote novels about a fictionalized American Wild West that count among the most popular books of German literature to this day. His stories left an imprint on German culture, resulting in a variety of Wild West festivals featuring Native Americans and frontier settlers. These Karl May festivals are hosted widely throughout German-speaking countries today.

This book, based on years of fieldwork observing and studying the festivals, plays, events, and groups that comprise this subculture, addresses a larger, timely issue: cultural transfer and appropriations. Are Germans dressing up in American Indian costumes paying tribute or offending the cultures they are representing? Avoiding simplistic answers, A. Dana Weber considers the complexity of cultural enactments as they relate both to the distinctly German phenomenon as well as to larger questions of cultural representations in American and European live performance traditions.


Author. Photo credit, Name A. Dana Weber is an assistant professor of German in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics at Florida State University.




“An ambitious study combining cultural theory with sensitive fieldwork to help understand the popular phenomenon of Wild West plays and festivals in Germany based on the fiction of nineteenth-century author Karl May. Weber presents a model for making sense of potentially disturbing practices of costuming and acting like members of other cultures.”
—Peter Tokofsky, University of California, Los Angeles



Download Cover: color | b/w

Download Author Photo: color | b/w

Request Review Copy

Request Exam Copy


Of Related Interest


City of Neighborhoods
Memory, Folklore, and Ethnic Place in Boston
Anthony Bak Buccitelli


The Paradox of Authenticity
Folklore Performance in Post-Communist Slovakia
Joseph Grim Feinberg

Blood Brothers and Peace Pipes: Cover showing five overlapping circles, each filled with something different. One circle includes the title text atop a purple background, one includes the subtitle text atop a red background, and one inclues the author text atop a yellow background. The other two circles depict two men on horses going through a hilly main street, and a group of people meeting in a wide open common space in their village. Behind the circles, there is a cream background with a delicate, green outline.

Larger images

October 2019
LC: 2019009203 GT
424 pp. 6 x 9
25 b/w illus., 1 map

Book icon
Casebound $89.95 s
ISBN 9780299323509
Shopping cart

Review Cart