On December 5-6, Siri Driessen and Maria Grever will deliver a paper called "Reenactment and bodily understanding: The significance of visits to historical war sites for the Dutch military" in Lille (France) on the occasion of the international symposium "The Battlefield after the Battle: memories and Uses". It was written by Prof. dr. Grever, Driessen MA, and Prof. dr. Reijnders.
Although tourism to former war sites has gained much academic attention over the last years, less is known about military visits to these sites. Military visits to places associated with past wars are undertaken to study and reflect on past events on site - in terms of Collingwood re-enacting past thought - in order to improve cadet’s and officers’ performances in future wars. These improvements range from plain tactical decision-making to an emotional understanding of what it means to be in the military. Consequently, military field trips make use of multiple ways of approaching the past, by both focusing on cognitive understanding of the past and on obtaining emotional responses. Contrary to the general image about historical re-enactments as simplified and distorted representations of the past, the re-enactments are primarily an educational activity in this context. In our paper, we analyse the personal experiences of Dutch army members during military field trips to historical war sites. The research has been carried out by Siri Driessen.