Authenticity, Autonomy and Multiculturalism
The concept of authenticity enters multicultural politics in three distinct but interrelated senses: as an ideal of individual and group identity that commands recognition by others; as a condition of individuals' autonomy that bestows legitimacy on their values, beliefs and preferences as being their own; and as a form of cultural pedigree that bestows legitimacy on particular beliefs and practices (commonly called cultural authenticity). In each case, the authenticity idea is called on to anchor or legitimate claims to some kind of public recognition. The considerable work asked of this concept raises a number of vital questions: Should authenticity be accorded the importance it holds in multicultural politics? Do its pitfalls outweigh its utility? Is the notion of authenticity avoidable in making sense of and evaluating cultural claims? Or does it, perhaps, need to be rethought or recalibrated?
Geoffrey Brahm Levey and his distinguished group of philosophers, political theorists, and anthropologists challenge conventional assumptions about authenticity that inform liberal responses to minority cultural claims in Western democracies today. Discussing a wide range of cases drawn from Britain and continental Europe, North America, Australia and the Middle East, they press beyond theories to consider also the practical and policy implications at stake. A helpful resource to scholars worldwide in Political and Social Theory, Political Philosophy, Legal Anthropology, Multiculturalism, and, more generally, of cultural identity and diversity in liberal democracies today.