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Authenticity is a concept that is invoked frequently in a wide variety of domains and often carries a heavy affective load. It plays an especially prominent role in discussions of heritage, identity, nationalism, tradition, music, art, food, literature, architecture, tourism, museums, theme parks, historical reenactment, gentrification, advertising, and so forth; and it has been much debated by academics, marketing people, artists, self-help gurus, and ordinary consumers. This seminar examines some of the major theoretical perspectives that notions of authenticity have generated and examines the uses of authenticity in a variety of empirical domains in an effort to trace the historical roots of the concept, its multiple shifting meanings in different contexts, the roles it has played in the creation of the self, communities, social boundaries, and networks, and its relationship to the production of value in consumption and commodity marketing. Related phenomena such as forgeries and fakes (in archaeology, folklore, art, etc.), issues of appropriation and exploitation, and the politics of indigeneity will also be treated.
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