In this special section, we conceptualise ‘Skilled mediations’ to examine the following questions from several ethnographic perspectives: How do skills and media interact, enable and limit our engagement in our material and social environments? How can this be studied ethnographically? We take our previous works on ‘skilled visions’ and ‘enskilment’ as starting points to define skilled mediation as a mode of engagement with the senses, practice, skill and media.
Cristina Grasseni and Thorsten Gieser
Skilled mediation in popular re‐enactment
During the last decade, mimetic practices of imagining, embodying and situating (past) events evolved into a prevalent phenomenon of vernacular culture symptomatic of an increasingly mediatised world. To explore popular historical re‐enactments as media practices, I draw on the example of the Cologne Tribes () from Cologne/Germany, a community of amateurs whose members emulate the historic lifeworlds of the Huns and Mongolians as a leisure activity. In their performances they creatively appropriate a wide range of global visual, sonic and textual inscriptions that are translated into bodily actions and material artefacts in a complex process of re‐mediation. Whereas academics commonly consider the embodied knowledge produced in popular re‐enactment as false, fake or mere fantasy, to the practitioners the construction of ‘authenticity’ is a matter of continuous negations. This paper explores how the concept of ‘skilled mediation’ resonated with the local notion of the ‘Hunnic eye’ that the Cologne Tribes developed to designate an ‘aesthetic of authenticity’ that is constituted in the eye of the beholder.