Plen2
Cultural authenticity
Convenor:
Dimitrios Theodossopoulos (University of Kent)
Chair:
Jacqueline Waldren
Format:
Plenaries
Location:
Great Hall
Start time:
8 April, 2009 at 11:00
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

Plenary Two examines the elusive concept of cultural authenticity, its visual dimension, its reliance on the awareness of the past, its potential to deny or encourage cultural creativity. We examine the consequences of claiming authentic identities, the ‘pastness’ of heritage, the realisation of authenticity in inauthenticity.

Long abstract:

The pursuit of authenticity has inspired anthropologists and archaeologists to embark on journeys of discovery. In many cases, the cultures discovered were not those imagined, but the journey to authenticity—located at a temporal or spatial distance—has provided the two disciplines with opportunities to confront the discrepancies between appearance and reality. Maybe for this reason, the notion of authenticity (with all its essentialising and discriminating properties) deserves our attention: it has enthused our engagement with the world, encouraged our expectation that a hidden layer of true social life exists beyond the surface level of social interaction. This is knowledge to be uncovered by long-term participant observation, excavation, and carbon dating. In this plenary, we engage with the elusive concept of cultural authenticity, its visual dimension, its reliance on the awareness of the past, its potential to deny or encourage cultural creativity. We examine the consequences of claiming authentic identities (for the self or for others), the timeliness and ‘pastness’ of heritage, the potential for authenticity in inauthenticity. So the journey begins: can authenticity be discovered? experienced? consumed?