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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.

 

 

Praise

“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

 

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Book Title

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

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Casebound $89.95 s
ISBN 9780299323509
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