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Why it Never Really was About Authenticity

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Abstract

Critics of the concept fail to note that staged authenticity is not authenticity but its opposite or negation. This error is illustrated referencing Ed Bruner’s reading of The Tourist in his recent book Culture on Tour.
... The propositions that the visual experience of the tourist captured in photographs is a mediation of emotion and cognition when reproduced through electronic digital media (Robinson, 2014) or that the gaze of a photographer wields asymmetric power over the gazed-upon object (Bandyopadhyay & Ganguly, 2018), do not satisfactorily explain the temptation of a tourist to gaze upon an idyllic paissage or everyday bodily performances, let alone choreograph a photograph of it. From this lack of an explanation as to why the tourist gazes (as opposed to the nature of MacCannell (2001), MacCannell, 2008, MacCannell, 2016 offered us an alternative way to 'see' the tourist experience via 'authenticity'. ...
... It was not the tourist who was colonized by their sensory pleasures during the act of tourism, but the pursuit of the consumption of an authentic experience that drove the tourist to either seek out the foreign or alienate the familiar in a touristic experience. In this sense, authenticity was not necessarily an absolute adjective to describe the realness of something real, but was instead the pursuit of something whose symbolic construction created a feeling of realness (MacCannell, 2008). In fact, true authenticity might not even exist as an absolute adjective, but used as an adverb to modify the actions of a tour, such as the authentic crossing of a threshold into a (real, but most likely staged) 'behind the scenes' experience (MacCannell, 2008, p. 335). ...
... Building on MacCannell's (2001MacCannell's ( , 2008MacCannell's ( , 2016 concept of authenticity, Lau (2010) rejected relationship authenticity for object authenticity on the grounds of social realism, emphasizing its focus to dismiss a somewhat metaphysical sense of 'realness' or what 'true selves' may entail, thus disregarding the symbolic nature of the tourist experience. One would have difficulty trying to capture contra-authentic tourist destinations where tourists themselves are drawn neither to the destination for the 'realness' of their life processes nor in the form of a pilgrimage to experience their 'true selves'. ...
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Chinese outbound tourism is hugely significant in Hallstatt (Austria), alongside its replica, Hallstatt (China) which is also consumed by Chinese tourists. But do the tourists in the latter contribute to outbound tourism? This paper investigates the relationship across both Hallstatts to reveal a complexity of tourists flows through identity discourses based on the reproduction and imagination of place. It incorporates a research methodology based on a qualitative case study, analyzing the discourses of virtual reproductions of place, not as separate entities, but as one unified image across time and space. A conceptual framework is afforded through a balance of ‘western’ tourism concepts (tourist gaze and staged authenticity) with Chinese concepts (xiaozi and shanzhai) to reposition Hallstatt and Hallstatt, not as original and copy, but through the imaginary, mimetic reproductions of Chinese outbound tourists. By reflecting on tourist representations and incorporating the vocabulary of authentic tourist experiences, both Hallstatts come alive through an intricate waltz of gazing, experiencing and desiring to de-familiarize familiar spaces while playing up the imaginary. We introduce the idea of ‘sight’ to elucidate a mimetic gaze, rather than place, in the shaping of both the Austrian façade and the unraveling of an emerging Chinese consumer identity.
... Due to staged settings in tourism supply, however, tourists can only encounter staged authenticity (MacCannell, 1973). It is worth noting that staged authenticity is not authenticity, and MacCannell (2008) does not believe in authenticity: In social life, real and show, and authentic and inauthentic, are not ultimate positions (MacCannell, 2008). Nevertheless, people are more willing to believe that the back regions of others' lives are more real; therefore they can be transformed into staged authenticity, providing a stage for people's dreams and desires that cannot be realized in daily life, an opportunity for people to enter the world of myths and fantasy (MacCannell, 2008). ...
... It is worth noting that staged authenticity is not authenticity, and MacCannell (2008) does not believe in authenticity: In social life, real and show, and authentic and inauthentic, are not ultimate positions (MacCannell, 2008). Nevertheless, people are more willing to believe that the back regions of others' lives are more real; therefore they can be transformed into staged authenticity, providing a stage for people's dreams and desires that cannot be realized in daily life, an opportunity for people to enter the world of myths and fantasy (MacCannell, 2008). Tourism experiences are rarely authentic: they are just illusions or staged representations of the authentic life of others (MacCannell, 1973). ...
... Postmodern authenticity tends to be an illusion of authenticity rather than a certain reality (Waitt, 2000). Even the so-called 'back regions' may be imaginary settings (MacCannell, 2008). However, it is not only a fantasy landscape, it is also an attitude, a way of life, and an ideology (Tamagni, 1988). ...
Article
The main purpose of this study is to examine the structural relationships of authenticities in the cultural heritage tourism context. This paper deconstructs authenticity into objective, constructive, existential, and postmodern types, and proposes a relationship model for them. The results suggest that objective authenticity positively affects constructive authenticity and existential authenticity, constructive authenticity positively affects existential authenticity, and postmodern authenticity negatively moderates the relationships between objective authenticity and constructive authenticity, and between constructive authenticity and existential authenticity. The main conclusion is that each type of authenticity has limited explanatory power, and a combined application of the different types of authenticity is more conducive to the sustainable development of cultural heritage tourism. The key focus of this study is how to maintain a balance between the types of authenticity. Practical development, management and marketing implications are discussed.
... Staged authenticity was originally proposed as an oxymoron by MacCannell (1973MacCannell ( , 2008, who argued that any and all staged experiences were inherently inauthentic. Respondents made distinctions between front and back stage but did not necessarily conclude that front stage experiences were automatically inauthentic. ...
... In view of the emotional circumstances in the travel industry supply, just organized genuineness is experienced by the sightseers (MacCannell, 1973). Organized validness is viewed as legitimacy in light of the public activity, reality and extreme positions (MacCannell, 2008). Accordingly, individuals have the insight to consider the existence of past as more genuine; consequently they can be moved to arranged legitimacy due to arrangement of wants that can't be seen in routine life and a possibility for individuals to enter in the realm of custom and creative mind (MacCannell, 2008). ...
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Heritage tourism is considered to be one of the prestigious national assets in Pakistan. Measuring the tourists' perception in tourism context is one of the important themes in behavioral sciences. Understanding the tourists' perception for objective, constructive and existential authenticities in the heritage destinations is of pivotal importance. This study intends to measure the influence of authenticity of the tourists' destinations in development of heritage tourism in Pakistan. To conduct this study, 657 valid questionnaires from the national and international tourists were analyzed.Confirmatory factor analysis and Structure Equation Model are used to assess the relationship between the constructs.Results show that objective authenticity, constructive authenticity and existential authenticity have significant positive influence in developing heritage tourism in Pakistan. This paper may work as decision tool for higher authorities for bringing positive changes in heritage tourism infrastructure. This study brings valuable marketing and management insights in heritage tourism.
... As is generally known, UNESCO heritage labels are being increasingly seen as a commodity that can attract new "heritage" tourists. Some scholars argue that with the growth of globalized tourism, real authenticity can be easily replaced with a "staged" authenticity in which local cultures and traditions become simulated for customer or tourist consumption (MacCannell 2008;Cohen 1988). The organizers of the Radvaň Fair try to organize it in order to reinvent its authenticity. ...
Article
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This paper deals with the processes of transformation of an urban festival – the Radvaň Fair in the city of Banská Bystrica, Slovakia – in a comprehensive way and from a chronological point of view. The main focus is on the development of the festival in the post-1989 (post-communist) period. The fair has been organised continuously since 1655 and went through a number of transformations. Its function has changed from a primarily commercial event of three centuries to a significant cultural and social hallmark festival in the 21st century. The key research questions concern the role of cultural heritage-based festival in identity building and city marketing, and the relationship between the festival and place (location). The paper also addresses the question of potential use/misuse of cultural heritage in current political discourse and practice.
... Staged authenticity was originally proposed as an oxymoron by MacCannell (1973MacCannell ( , 2008, who argued that any and all staged experiences were inherently inauthentic. Respondents made distinctions between front and back stage but did not necessarily conclude that front stage experiences were automatically inauthentic. ...
Article
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Culinary experiences have long been an important aspect of tourism. For many destinations, culinary offerings have become ubiquitous with the place – pasta in Italy, wine in the Loire- or Napa Valley, or curry in India. As tourists increasingly seek out authentic touristic experiences, including culinary experiences, the question arises regarding what constitutes an authentic culinary experience in a place. While authentic and authenticity are terms widely used in the tourism literature, a precise definition of what those terms mean and a method for identifying that which is authentic remains elusive. Research regarding authenticity in tourism suggests that locals occupy a ‘place of privilege’ with respect to determining the authenticity of a touristic experience because of their connection to and context in relation to the place. This paper examines the perspectives of Prince Edward Island (PEI) residents with respect to what constitutes an authentic culinary touristic experience in which visitors to Canada’s smallest province can partake and that provide those visitors with a glimpse of what life in PEI is or was really like, and provides a voice for an underrepresented group in the authenticity discourse. Results show that authentic culinary experiences transcend food, and encompass people, places, and experiences in ways that enrich touristic endeavours, and that locals understand and interpret authenticity in ways that both conform to and differ from existing scholarly work related to tourism authenticity, and span objective, existential, and constructive authenticity.
... This is a process that is entrenched. As quickly as tourists move beyond the tourist track in search of 'authentic' interactions, those interactions themselves become susceptible to commercialization and commodification (MacCannell, 1992(MacCannell, , 2008. This process of objectification is part of what critics find abhorrent about orphanage tourism and some forms of voluntourism (Guiney & Mostafanezhad, 2015). ...
Article
This study focuses on Burning Man which was canceled by the organizing body in 2020 for the first time since its creation, and the unsanctioned participant-driven version of the event, known as Renegade Man, which was created in its wake. The decision of some travelers to ignore official policy and create an alternative event outside organization control during a global pandemic caused a rift in the Burning Man community that provides valuable insights in the contested nature of authentication practices in a tourism event space. This article is a netnographic exploration of how event cancellation influences experiences of communitas and how tourists motivated by a pursuit of existential authenticity navigate what it means to perform authentication in a community setting.
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Authenticity is one of the oldest and most debated concepts in tourism studies. The last major review of authenticity was published in 1999 in this journal. This review aims to contextualize the developments since that review within the broader trends of 42 years of authenticity research (1979–2020). Working with a sample of 458 research articles, multiple methods of systematic literature review and bibliometric analysis (including descriptive statistics, thematic analysis, and keyword co-frequency analysis) are applied. From the findings produced, a number of challenges and opportunities are identified that speak to the viability of future authenticity research in the field. More broadly, this review also serves to launch the Annals of Tourism Research Curated Collection on authenticity.
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The problem of false consciousness and its relationship to the social structure of tourist establishments is analyzed. Accounts of travelers are examined in terms of Erving Goffman's front versus back distinction. It is found that tourists try to enter back regions of the places they visit because these regions are associated with intimacy of relations and authenticity of experiences. It is also found that tourist settings are arrenged to produce the impression that a back region has been entered even when this is not the case. In tourist settings, between the front and the back there is a series of special spaces designed to accommodate tourists and to support their beliefs in the authenticity of their experiences. Goffman's front-back dichotomy is shown to be ideal poles of a continuum, or a variable.
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This chapter reviews the staged authenticity in cultural arrangements beyond tourism and the implications of this relocation, also exploring the fragile membrane guarding the back as described by Erving Goffman, some consequences of its violation by tourists, and the social and human impacts of its putative removal across the board. Goffman was meticulous in explaining how much of humanity hangs on the separation of front and back. An examination of the tourist gaze from the double perspective of Goffman/Michel Foucault reveals emergent paranoid structures at the level of society, or at least the so-called postmodern variants of society. Jeremy Bentham believed that the design of the prison should guarantee visibility of the whole of the prison to the whole of the outside world. It is noted that prisons are actually more crowded, violent, and disease ridden than they have ever been.
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Recruited to be a lecturer on a group tour of Indonesia, Edward M. Bruner decided to make the tourists aware of tourism itself. He photographed tourists photographing Indonesians, asking the group how they felt having their pictures taken without their permission. After a dance performance, Bruner explained to the group that the exhibition was not traditional, but instead had been set up specifically for tourists. His efforts to induce reflexivity led to conflict with the tour company, which wanted the displays to be viewed as replicas of culture and to remain unexamined. Although Bruner was eventually fired, the experience became part of a sustained exploration of tourist performances, narratives, and practices. Synthesizing more than twenty years of research in cultural tourism, Culture on Tour analyzes a remarkable variety of tourist productions, ranging from safari excursions in Kenya and dance dramas in Bali to an Abraham Lincoln heritage site in Illinois. Bruner examines each site in all its particularity, taking account of global and local factors, as well as the multiple perspectives of the various actors—the tourists, the producers, the locals, and even the anthropologist himself. The collection will be essential to those in the field as well as to readers interested in globalization and travel.
Indefensible space: the architecture of the national security state
  • D Maccannell
  • D. MacCannell