This panel explores how 'authenticity' is sought, mobilized and contested in relation to belonging and heritage. Particular focus is given to to the everyday actuality of identity politics and struggles for social recognition among emerging and resurging ethnic, religious and political groups.
While authenticity has long lost its appeal as an analytical category, it still remains, in different forms, a contentious category of social practice invoked in the discourse of identity and political recognition. It is repeatedly mobilized for collective purposes and used to legitimize shared belonging. Globalized ethnopolitics influence local understandings of belonging and heritage, whilst international tourism fosters 'authenticity' as a viable and sought after commodity. Advances in genetic research considerably alter the discourse and practices of seeking legitimization of identity claims, while emerging virtual topographies challenge the notion of 'authentic' experience and lifeworlds. Authenticity is invoked in struggles for political recognition of difference: as contentious social capital employed to claim resources and power, or as imposed hegemonic ideal of sameness and alterity. Can new perspectives in anthropology shed light on how and why authenticity is persistently mobilized and employed in everyday life, and offer new answers beyond the imaginaries of the real, the spirit, blood and history? The panel welcomes contributions from researchers exploring both specific and broad dimensions of authentication of belonging and heritage in hope for a productive comparative discussion. Prospective panelists are also encouraged to submit papers on the ethical and methodological challenges posed by engaging with this often controversial and politically charged subject.