Producing and Consuming Authenticity — Politics of the Past in the Cultural and Creative Industries in the Sinophone Sphere

Third party funded individual grant


Project Details

Project leader:
Prof. Dr. Marc Matten


Contributing FAU Organisations:
Professur für die Zeitgeschichte Chinas

Funding source: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
Start date: 01/09/2018
End date: 31/08/2021


Abstract (technical / expert description):

This projects examines the role of authenticity in the creation and circulation of historical memories in the Sinophone sphere. It reconsiders the significance of history and memory making in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan that in the past decades was transformed profoundly by a pluralization of history writing. Digital technologies, popular media and commercialization in the cultural and creative industries have shaped the ways and processes through which cultural products invent and contest for historical authenticity. Complementing the top-down perspective in existing research that has long focused on state policies and national identity discourses we analyze popular modes of representing and recreating imaginaries of the past in three case studies: 1. historical sites and living history tourism; 2. non-state organized exhibitions and museums on 20th century history; and 3. culinary culture. These are currently heavily debated sites where consumers build up or reactivate links to the past through personal and personalized experience of re-enacting the past, re-using historical artifacts, or re-living the past by sensual nostalgia. In all cases, the once reified past has become an event or a marketable commodity that has replaced historical truth with authenticity and thus seemingly no longer exclusively follows a political logic. Inventing and contesting historical authenticity has become a highly complex process in which memory concepts oscillate between colonial and/or revolutionary nostalgia and inevitable globalization.
The core question of this project are: How do cultural and creative industries help the consumer to invent an experience of historical authenticity through his/her reenactment and performance of the past and his/her negotiation with multi-layered temporalities and displacement of nostalgia? How does the often proclaimed withdrawal of political ideology and state authority contribute and respond to the growing polyphony in the culture and creative industries, and what social and political implications do various self-claimed authentic historical narratives and memories hold for the societies which are analyzed? The project aims to give a more nuanced view of the roles of the state, society and culture industry in the politics of remembrance, to rethink the relationship between popular and official views on history, and finally to scrutinize recent theoretical innovations developed in heritage studies and public history for their possible contribution to the study of historical memory in the Sinophone sphere.








Last updated on 2018-26-07 at 17:08