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Authenticity, hybridity, and difference

Debating national identity in twentieth-century Mexico

Wil G. Pansters

This article studies the transformation of the debate about national culture in twentieth-century Mexico by looking at the complex relationship between discourses of authenticity and mestizaje. The article firstly demonstrates how in the first half of the twentieth century, Mexican national identity was constructed out of a state-led program of mestizaje, thereby supposedly giving rise to a new and authentic identity, the mestizo (nation). Secondly, it is argued that the authentication project around mestizaje is riddled with paradoxes that require explanation. Thirdly, the article studies the political dimension of the authenticity discourse and demonstrates how the homogenizing and unifying forces that spring from the process of authentication played an important role in buttressing an authoritarian regime. Fourthly, the article looks at two recent developments: indigenous cultural politics and transnationalism. Here it is shown how discourses of difference, pluralism, and transnationalism are challenging the central tenets of Mexican post-revolutionary national culture and the boundaries of the national Self.

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Language Revitalisation Models in Minority Language Contexts

Tensions between Ideologies of Authenticity and Anonymity

Bernadette O'Rourke

This article looks at the historicisation of the native speaker and ideologies of authenticity and anonymity in Europe's language revitalisation movements. It focuses specifically on the case of Irish in the Republic of Ireland and examines how the native speaker ideology and the opposing ideological constructs of authenticity and anonymity filter down to the belief systems and are discursively produced by social actors on the ground. For this I draw on data from ongoing fieldwork in the Republic of Ireland, drawing on interviews with a group of Irish language enthusiasts located outside the officially designated Irish-speaking Gaeltacht.

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From Exoticism to Authenticity

Textbooks during French Colonization and the Modern Literature of Global Tourism

Claudine Moïse

*Article translated by Francine Tolron

This article explores the French fascination with “the primitive” and “the exotic” in the post–World War I years through a study of representations of the French colonies in textbooks intended for primary and secondary schoolchildren. It then compares these representations with contemporary French-language tourist literature in Ontario, Canada, demonstrating continuities between these “exotic” representations of the colonial other and contemporary discourses centered on “authenticity” in the world of international tourism.

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Susanne Højlund

Based on fieldwork in Danish children's homes, this article examines how the idea of 'home' has emerged and become integrated in institutional practices. The ideal of hominess serves as a positive model for sociality in the institution, but at the same time it also produces dilemmas, paradoxes, and contradictions for both children and social workers. These dilemmas stem from the conflicting values of institution and home. Nevertheless, the two spheres should not be seen as spaces with incompatible logics; rather, they should be viewed as mutually dependent but competing ideas (and practices) that are inherent in the institutional value hierarchy. The article argues that the ideal of authenticity plays a central role in the way that hominess is perceived as a positive value in children's homes—and perhaps in institutions in general.

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Travel Writers and Traveling Writers in Australasia

Responses to Travel Literatures and the Problem of Authenticity

Helen Bones

This article compares responses to travel writing and imaginative fiction about the settler colonies, in particular Australia and New Zealand, between 1870 and 1945—a time when distinctions between travel, mobility, and emigration were hard to pin down. Very little scholarship has shown an interest in what the subject society’s inhabitants thought of its portrayal, and what this can tell us about colonial and national identities. Australasian responses to works about Australasia, in the form of published reviews, were influenced by the knowledge and particular concerns of the reviewer and their own negotiations with identity. What mattered to readers and critics was the authenticity of the portrayal of the place, but this was not only related to whether the work claimed to be fiction or non-fiction. The perceived level of familiarity that the writer had with the area was the most important factor in determining whether the reception of a work was positive or negative.

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'The Best Way to See Waterloo Is with Your Eyes Shut'

British 'Histourism', Authenticity and Commercialisation in the Mid-Nineteenth Century

Pieter François

This article analyses how nineteenth-century British visitors of Waterloo anticipated, experienced and explained their visit of 'the field'. The article shows how British visitors attempted to claim ownership over Waterloo and to legitimise their own commemorative practices by simultaneously searching for authenticity and longing for the familiarity (and commercialisation) of the 'beaten track'. By doing so this article calls for a shift in our understanding of nineteenth-century British Waterloo tourism. The view that emphasises the succession of an early generation of authentic travellers by a later generation of 'mere' tourists is replaced by a view which sees the desire for authenticity and the need for the familiar as two forces which were continuously negotiated in creative ways by travellers throughout the whole nineteenth century.

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Yiwei Zheng

While the notion of “bad faith” remains stable in Jean-Paul Sartre’s early philosophy, the notions of “pure reflection” and “good faith” undergo significant changes. In Being and Nothingness,2 pure reflection was presented as a necessary but not sufficient condition for authenticity,3 whereas in Notebooks for an Ethics ,4 ‘pure reflection’ and ‘authenticity’ seemed to refer to the same consciousness (although with different emphasis)5 (NE, 12, 472-482, 515). In Being and Nothingness, the project of good faith was introduced as a corrupted mode of being, which, like bad faith, stands in contrast to authenticity (EN, 108-111; BN, 113-116), whereas in Notebooks for an Ethics, Sartre did not seem to distinguish good faith from authenticity (NE, 12).

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T. Storm Heter

This article presents a novel defense of Sartrean ethics based on the concept of interpersonal recognition. The immediate post-war texts Anti-Semite and Jew, What is Literature? and Notebooks for an Ethics express Sartre's inchoate yet ultimately defensible view of obligations to others. Such obligations are not best understood as Kantian duties, but rather as Hegelian obligations of mutual recognition. The emerging portrait of Sartrean ethics offers a strong reply to the classical criticism that authenticity would license vicious lifestyles like serial killing. In addition to acting with clarity and responsibility, existentially authentic individuals must respect others.

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Sarah Horton

Drawing on Sartre’s account of violence, I argue that not only is bad faith inevitable in practice, but a limited bad faith is necessary for authenticity. Although violating the freedom of others is bad faith, it is impossible to never violate anyone’s freedom. Moreover, and more fundamentally, the ontological structure of the for-itself entails that the for-itself can only be authentic in the mode of not being authentic. Seeking to altogether avoid bad faith is bad faith, for it is an attempt to constitute oneself as essentially authentic, yet the for-itself has no preexisting essence. By recognizing one’s complete responsibility for choosing bad faith, however, one limits one’s bad faith. This limited bad faith is in fact necessary to authenticity, which is a project lived out in concrete situations and not a categorical moral law that forbids bad faith.

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Authenticity and Aspiration

Exploring the CBBC Television Tween

Sarah Godfrey

In this article, I argue that while the tween is understood as having transnational relevance and mobility, this is often emphasized in ways that overlook the national and cultural specificities of tween culture. I argue that the distinctive context of British television history augments the connections between national and transnational paradigms of tween culture in important ways. While authenticity, friendships, and honesty remain foregrounded in a number of Children’s British Broadcasting Corporation (CBBC) shows, these are constructed through a national discourse that connects to transnational models of the tween girl but also mobilizes a cultural specificity that is inextricable from the broadcasting context in which it is produced.