QUOTING AND TELLING

in Ethnologia Europaea
Author:
Irit Dekel Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Humboldt University Berlin iritdekel@gmail.com

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Tour guides in home museums perform a special mediating role: they connect past and present through stories that mark both proximity and distance from them. This paper is based on ethnographic research in four home museums in Germany, those of Konrad Adenauer, Bertolt Brecht and Helene Weigel, Albert Einstein, and Kaethe Kollwitz. I analyze the performance of guides quoting the words, either written or allegedly spoken, of home museums’ protagonists. I claim that the quotes work along two axes coordinated according to the relative differentiation of hierarchical distance and temporal displacement. The guides navigate the space created by these axes and negotiate the meaning of histories through the perspective of home life. The axes help us understand both guides’ and visitors’ work and interpretation.

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