Reclaiming AuthenticityThe Spaces and Scales of National Sincerity

Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Politics and Space
Early online date01 Apr 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 01 Apr 2020
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At present, there seems to be somewhat of a paradox between critical academic and more political and popular understandings of authenticity. At one level, the notion of authenticity has become passé, almost a dirty word, for critical social theorists and human geographers; being something that reflects, at best, naïve, or at worst, essentialist and exclusionary ways of thinking. At the same time, we are in the middle of a period during which notions of authenticity have never been as prominent within political and public debate. In this paper, we develop the notion of sincerity as a way of enabling a more progressive interpretation of authenticity. We illustrate the value of this approach through a case study of the identities and cultures promoted within the education system in Wales. We witness here an emphasis on a negotiated sense of Welsh identity and one that is sensitive to difference; in spatial and scalar contexts. We conclude the paper by suggesting that the notion of sincerity might provide critical social scientists with a potential way of developing a more progressive and inclusive understanding of authenticity.