'The Best Way to See Waterloo Is with Your Eyes Shut'

British 'Histourism', Authenticity and Commercialisation in the Mid-Nineteenth Century

in Anthropological Journal of European Cultures

This article analyses how nineteenth-century British visitors of Waterloo anticipated, experienced and explained their visit of 'the field'. The article shows how British visitors attempted to claim ownership over Waterloo and to legitimise their own commemorative practices by simultaneously searching for authenticity and longing for the familiarity (and commercialisation) of the 'beaten track'. By doing so this article calls for a shift in our understanding of nineteenth-century British Waterloo tourism. The view that emphasises the succession of an early generation of authentic travellers by a later generation of 'mere' tourists is replaced by a view which sees the desire for authenticity and the need for the familiar as two forces which were continuously negotiated in creative ways by travellers throughout the whole nineteenth century.