In August 2015 the municipality of Sinj, located in the Dalmatian hinterland, celebrated the 300-year anniversary of a historic victory against the troops of the Ottoman Empire, one that is legendarily attributed to the divine intervention of the Virgin Mary. The Sinj Tourist Board launched an unprecedented campaign in organizing and advertising the various events - ranging from historical re-enactments, film and music productions, folkloristic performances, sports events, exhibitions, and fashion shows, to religious processions and conferences. Using a variety of media formats, these efforts were aimed at creating a new national epic, expanding the meaning of the miraculous battle of 1715 from a local narrative to a nation-wide symbol, representing Croatia in a European and global context. This article focuses on various theatrical re-enactments of the historic battle and the alleged Marian apparition, assessing the role of nostalgia and authenticity in contemporary living history performances. While one of the underlying motifs in the case of Sinj is to enhance the region’s attraction as a tourist destination, the article also theorizes the re-enactment’s epistemological and political claims by proposing that these interactive engagements with history take an active stance in promoting and/or re-inventing heroic olden times to advance socio-political conditions in the present (Gegenwartsbewaltigung).
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