ITM Master 1. Sem.
Di 14.00-17.15 h
Search for Authenticity
In the study of tourism, the conception of authenticity has
undergone three shifts over the past 40 years, with
giving way to a
social construction perspective and, later,
The shift to an existentialist understanding reframes authenticity in terms of the tourists rather than the cultures he or she encounters while touring.
The three steps can also be described as looking at the authenticity of
"Objective authenticity of toured objects" (Boorstin / MacCannell) treat authenticity as a property inhering in toured objects one that can be definitively measured.
Boorstin denied that tourists had either the wherewithal or motivation to do so. Travel, he lamented, was a “lost art,” that had become “diluted, contrived, pre-fabricated”:
“Formerly, when the old-time traveler visited a country whatever he saw was apt to be what really went on there…. Today what [the tourist] sees is seldom the living culture, but usually specimens collected and embalmed especially for him, or attractions specifically staged for him” (Boorstin 1961:102).
“The American tourist in Japan looks less for what is Japanese than what is Japenesey” (1961:106).
MacCannell (1973) disputed Boorstin’s assertion that tourists prefer contrived pseudo-events to authentic cross-cultural encounters, suggesting instead that touristic space is structured to satisfy the “desire for authentic experiences” that motivates “touristic consciousness”. MacCannell argued that “back regions” are staged for tourists to enable them to feel as if they are penetrating beyond a false front. Like Boorstin, however, MacCannell questioned the ability of tourists to actually encounter what is authentic in foreign cultures. The “staged authenticity” ends up undermining the tourist’s goal: “The idea here is that a false back may be more insidious (heimtückisch) than a false front, or an inauthentic demystification of social life is not merely a lie but a superlie.” (1973:599).
Constructivist conceptions of authenticity can be condensed to five features:
There is no absolute and static original or origin on which the authenticity of originals relies.
Our notions of origins are constructed to serve present needs and are contested.
The experience of authenticity is pluralistic.
Things are often labeled authentic when they conform to stereotyped images. Authenticity is, in this regard, a projection of tourists own expectations.
Things once defined as inauthentic can be redefined over time through a process of "emergent authenticity."
The constructivist position transforms authenticity from a property inherent in toured objects to a set of socially-constructed symbolic meanings communicated by the objects.
The second shift in scholarly emphasis involves a downgrading of the debate over the authenticity of toured objects in favor of a redefinition of the term to refer to the tourist’s own first-person experience: “activity-related” or “existential” authenticity.
“Existential authenticity, unlike object-related version, can often have nothing to do with the issue of whether toured objects are real. In search of tourist experience which is existentially authentic, tourists are preoccupied with an existential state of Being activated by certain tourist activities…. They do not literally concern themselves about the authenticity of toured objects…. They are rather in search of their authentic selves with the aid of activities or toured objects.” (Wang 1999:359-60).This has been summed up also in the term of "post-tourists" (Feifer), tourists who are fully aware of and actually deligth in the inauthenticity of the normal tourist experience.
A layer approach to the authenticity quest could look like this:
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt FRGS