Critique of Authenticity

Thomas Claviez, Kornelia Imesch, Britta Sweers (Eds.)

by Alessandro Ferrara (University of Rome, Italy), Thomas Claviez (University of Bern, Switzerland), Timothy Campbell (Cornell University), Viola Marchi (University of Bern, Switzerland), Ryan Kopaitich (University of Bern, Swritzerland), Tina K. Ramnarine (University of London), Marcello Sorce Keller , Marcello Ruta , Lea Hagmann (University of Bern, Switzerland), Franz Andres Morrissey (University of Bern, Switzerland), Dietmar J. Wetzel , Sophie Junge (University of Zurich, Switzerland)

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The volume provides a critical assessment of the concept of authenticity and gauges its role, significance and shortcomings in a variety of disciplinary contexts. Many of the contributions communicate with each other and thus acknowledge the enormous significance of this politically, morally, philosophically and economically-charged concept that at the same time harbors dangerous implications and has been critically deconstructed. The volume shows that the alleged need or desire for authenticity is alive and kicking but oftentimes comes at a high price, connected to a culture of experts, authority and exclusionary strategies.

List of figures and tables

Thomas Claviez, Kornelia Imesch, Britta Sweers

Part 1. Overture: Authenticity at stake – a debate

Chapter 1 The dual paradox of authenticity in the 21st century
Alessandro Ferrara

Chapter 2 The dual paradox of authenticity in the 21st century: a response to Alessandro Ferrara
Thomas Claviez

Chapter 3 Authenticity and deconstruction: a rejoinder
Alessandro Ferrara

Part 2. Authenticity: theoretical and philosophical reflections

Chapter 4 A critique of authenticity and recognition
Thomas Claviez

Chapter 5 Authentic power and care as repetition
Timothy Campbell

Chapter 6 “The alienation of the common”: a look into the ‘authentic origin’ of community
Viola Marchi

Chapter 7 Authentic surfaces: toward a concept of transformational authenticity
Ryan Kopaitich

Part 3. Music and authenticity

Chapter 8 Hegel and Sibelius on the Starship Enterprise: beyond the frontiers of musical authenticity
Tina K. Ramnarine

Chapter 9 How we got into ‘authenticity’ and ‘originality’ thinking, and why we should find a way out of it
Marcello Sorce Keller

Chapter 10 Ontology of music and authenticity – a pragmatic approach
Marcello Ruta

Chapter 11 Multiple authenticities of folk songs
Lea Hagmann and Franz Andres Morrissey

Part 4. Authenticity in culture and society: case studies

Chapter 12 Transformative communities as alternative forms of life? Conceptual reflections and empirical findings (co-housing in Switzerland)
Dietmar J. Wetzel

Chapter 13 Authenticity required: writing the visual history of AIDS in current art exhibitions
Sophie Junge

Chapter 14 Authenticity as branding tool: generic architecture versus critical regionalism in the United Arab Emirates and in Qatar
Kornelia Imesch



Works Cited


Thomas Claviez holds the chair for Literary Theory at the University of Bern, Switzerland. He has published widely on issues of community, recognition, literary theory and moral philosophy. He is the author of several books and is currently working on a monograph with the title The Metonymic Community: Towards a Poetics of Contingency.

Kornelia Imesch is Professor for Modern and Contemporary Art and Architecture at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. She focuses her research on national, international and non-Western art and architecture; the art system; the relationship between art, architecture, and branding; art and film; and art and gender.

Britta Sweers is Professor of Cultural Anthropology of Music at the Institute of Musicology and Director of the Center for Global Studies (since 2015) at the University of Bern (Switzerland). Since 2015 she has also been President of the European Seminar in Ethnomusicology (ESEM). Sweers is co-editor of the European Journal of Musicology and of the Equinox book series Transcultural Music Studies.

Authenticity, recognition, experts, deconstruction, ethics, community, authority, music, performance, museums, folklore, contingency

Bibliographic Information

Book Title

Critique of Authenticity





Number of pages


Physical size



18 B&W

Publication date

January 2020