By Regina Bendix
Authenticity is a proposal a lot debated, between discussants as different as cultural theorists and artwork buyers, track critics and journey operators. the will to discover and by some means catch or guard the “authentic” narrative, artwork item, or ceremonial dance is rarely new. during this masterful exam of German and American folklore reviews from the eighteenth century to the current, Regina Bendix demonstrates that the eager for authenticity is still deeply implicated in scholarly ways to cultural analysis. Searches for authenticity, Bendix contends, were a relentless spouse to the emotions of loss inherent in modernization, eternally upholding a trust in a pristine but endangered cultural essence and fueling cultural nationalism all over the world. starting with precursors of Herder and Emerson and the “discovery” of the actual in expressive tradition and literature, she lines the various, albeit intertwined, histories of German Volkskunde and American folklore experiences. A Swiss local proficient in American folklore courses, Bendix strikes without difficulty among the 2 traditions, demonstrating how the inspiration of authenticity was once used not just to foster nationwide explanations, but additionally to put the principles for different types of documentation and research in the nascent box of folklore studies. Bendix exhibits that, in an more and more transcultural international, the place Zulu singers again up Paul Simon and the place indigenous artists search copyright for his or her conventional crafts, the politics of authenticity mingles with the forces of the industry. Arguing opposed to the dichotomies implied within the very concept of authenticity, she underscores the vacancy of efforts to differentiate among folklore and fakelore, among echt and ersatz.
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Additional info for In Search of Authenticity: The Formation of Folklore Studies
Already as a young man he recognized differences in taste and patterns of thought among people, and he spoke against ranking one as better than another, formulated in a fragment entitled, "Of the differences of taste and ways of thinking among humans" (1877-1913, vol. 32, pp. 18-21). " He opened with the statement "National pride is absurd, ridiculous and harmful. But love for one's nation is duty for everyone" (1877 -1913, vol. 32, p. 519). Herder felt that groups had differing "spiritual centers" [Volksgeist], but the differences were the best proof for an underlying universal commonality.
The question that has been brewing since the eighteenth century (or very likely earlier than that) is whether we have such a true self. The exotic within one's own cultures was sought as an antidote to the civilizatory malaise. I5 For some scholars and writers, native history was the avenue for excavating a better, more vigorous, and more sincere incarnation of one's own culture. 16 While these efforts at a restorative cultural history became important means to legitimate ethnic and national causes, the search for cultural authenticity through native, natural poetry proved of even greater consequence for both Romantic nationalism and folkloristics.
But deconstructing how knowledge was constructed is not nec- 22 Introduction essarily liberating. Folklore's "crisis" is not unique; across the academy there is a sense of loss of subject that deconstruction has brought with it. 31 Reflexivity is, however, a first step toward newly conceptualizing inquiry unhampered by concepts that are burdened by the very mode in which they are conceived. The study is organized into three parts, arranged chronologically and comparatively. The first part discusses the emergence of the concept of authenticity.