© 2018

Authenticity: The Cultural History of a Political Concept


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Maiken Umbach, Mathew Humphrey
    Pages 1-12
  3. Maiken Umbach, Mathew Humphrey
    Pages 13-38
  4. Maiken Umbach, Mathew Humphrey
    Pages 39-66
  5. Maiken Umbach, Mathew Humphrey
    Pages 67-93
  6. Maiken Umbach, Mathew Humphrey
    Pages 95-121
  7. Maiken Umbach, Mathew Humphrey
    Pages 123-129
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 131-144

About this book


Authenticity is everywhere: political leaders invoke the idea to gain our support, advertisers use it to sell their products. But is authenticity a dangerous hoax? What is, and is not, authentic has been hotly debated ever since the concept was invented. Many academics have sought to "unmask" authenticity claims as deceptive. This book takes a different approach. In chapters covering historical and contemporary examples, the authors explore why authenticity, real or imagined, exercises such a powerful hold on our imaginations. The chapters trace how invocations of authenticity borrow from one another, across arenas such as philosophy and theology, encounters with nature, leisure, and mass consumption, political and corporate leadership, left-wing and right-wing ideologies. This cultural history of authenticity is of interest to academic and lay readers alike, who are interested in the significance and history of a concept that shapes how we understand ourselves and the world we live in. 


ideology politics nature production consumption genuine eighteenth century nineteenth century twentieth century real language visual

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.School of Politics and International RelationsUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUnited Kingdom

About the authors

Maiken Umbach is Professor of Modern History at the University of Nottingham, UK. She has published on Enlightenment gardens, on industrial and urban design around 1900, on regionalism, and on cultural politics in Nazi Germany. She currently works on private photography and ideology under National Socialism.


Mathew Humphrey is Professor of Political Theory at the University of Nottingham. UK. He has published on environmental political philosophy, on democratic theory, political ideology, and radical protest. He currently works on environmental politics in the UK and Europe.


Both authors jointly direct the Centre for the Study of Political Ideologies at the University of Nottingham.

Bibliographic information