Universiteit Leiden

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Fake (and the notion of Real) in ancient and modern societies

  • Dr. Martin Berger
Thursday 15 March 2018 - Friday 16 March 2018
Pieterskerkhof 6
2311 SR Leiden

Objects, contexts, and practices

Our upcoming workshop shall explore archaeological and anthropological perspectives on the phenomenon of Fake (and the notion of Real) in ancient and modern societies – objects, contexts, and practices. Four discussion panels covering each a particular topic shall explore notions of 'Fake and Real in Ancient and Modern Societies': one key note and 11 impulse talks will present case studies and initiate podium discussions.

Does the notion of 'fake' count as an opposite term to and, by means of contrast, as part of a definition of what is 'original'? Depending on the perspective and point of origin, answers to this question would vary necessarily. We might be trapped within the mindset of Western evaluation, of our habitual judging of objects, places and practices within the dichotomy of fake versus real, copy versus original, imitation versus authenticity.

Spanning the globe

During our workshop in Leiden we want to examine the notions of fake and real, 'and everything in between', through case studies which span the globe, from the Caribbean via Europe and Africa to Western Asia and China, from 1600 BC till nowadays, in ancient and modern societies.

We are happy to bring together material culture and immaterial cultural heritage experts  and wish to gain insights into their methodology and research. We are eager to exchange fresh approaches to tackle related problems which we are facing in our ongoing research across different disciplines: Archaeology, Cultural Anthropology, as well as Museology and Museum Studies.

Who defines authenticity?

Our workshop offers space for diverse and alternative perspectives, we encourage all participants to be part of a fruitful discourse to assess and de-construct prevailing concepts. Together we will question the positive or negative connotations of fake (and real) in panel discussions. Our aim is not a fixed outcome, like, e.g. to develop a single authoritative definition for fake. Instead, we rather wish to raise the question who, by which process, is in power of defining authenticity, and in how far we are limited by the established terminology which we apply to manifold phenomena.


Check out the programme and the conference booklet.

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