Negotiating authentic objects and authentic selves: Beyond the deconstruction of authenticity



Jones S (2010) Negotiating authentic objects and authentic selves: Beyond the deconstruction of authenticity. Journal of Material Culture, 15 (2), pp. 181-203.

Our understanding of authenticity in the material world is characterized by a problematic dichotomy between materialist and constructivist perspectives. Neither explains why people find the issue of authenticity so compelling, nor how it is experienced and negotiated in practice. There is strong evidence supporting the view that prevailing materialist approaches to authenticity are a product of the development of modernity in the West. The result has been an emphasis on entities and their origins and essences. However, when we look at how people experience and negotiate authenticity through objects, it is the networks of relationships between people, places and things that appear to be central, not the things in themselves. The author argues that these inalienable relationships between objects, people and places underpin the ineffable, almost magical, power of authenticity and explain why people employ it as a means of negotiating their place in a world characterized by displacement and fragmentation. She illustrates this by drawing on ethnographic research surrounding the Hilton of Cadboll cross-slab.

conservation; authenticity; identity; heritage; modernity; place

Journal of Material Culture: Volume 15, Issue 2

Publication date30/06/2010

People (1)


Professor Sian Jones

Professor Sian Jones

Professor of Heritage, History