Conference: ‘Imagining the real: Alternative (arte)facts from antiquity to the present day’, 13–14/10 2017, Macquarie University

‘Imagining the real: Alternative (arte)facts from antiquity to the present day’

October 13–14, 2017, Macquarie University Museum of Ancient Cultures

A Symposium sponsored by the Australian Research Council, the MQ Ancient Cultures Research Centre, the Australian Centre for Ancient Numismatic Studies, and the Macquarie University Faculty of Arts ‘Modes of Communication’ Research Theme.

Authenticity gives our experience of the world salience and purchase. The idea of a single real past, anchored in material culture and transmitted by cultural practices, remains cherished in popular culture even as it is steadily eroded by academic discourse. The notion of a stable distinction between true and false continues to the widely held, even as everything from fake news to forged objects dissipates this certainty.

All pasts are imagined, competing constructs of what should, or could, have been. Present relevance is, after all, the final arbiter of the shape of memory. The authenticity of an object, text, or idea, is constructed by the viewer, and does not inhere within it. As the security of an authentic material past is disrupted by forgery, so too do fake objects bring forth fresh imaginings of past and contemporary experiences, lives, and cultures. Forgeries may be in this way carriers of a more authentic representation of the significance of the past than real artefacts, dependent as they are on affinities with contemporary discourse. Authentication techniques, from ancient processes of legitimisation to modern scientific techniques, and from humanities to scientific approaches, rest on expertises and authorities that are routinely contested.

Papers at this symposium will examine contested objects from a range of genres and periods; traditional and emerging techniques used to authenticate them; and the discourses of authenticity and modes of knowledge that both enable their creation, and frame competing understandings of them.

Speakers include: John Melville Jones (University of Western Australia); Årstein Justnes (University of Agder); Margie Borscke (Macquarie University); Malcolm Choat (Macquarie University); Maree Clegg (University of Auckland); Heather Greybehl (Monash University); Ken Sheedy (Macquarie University); Clementine Vanderkwast (Macquarie University); Rachel Yuen-Collingridge (Macquarie University).

Attendance will be free, but rsvps are necessary for catering purposes. A registration site wil be activated soon, but to signal interest now, or for other inquiries, please contact malcolm@forgingantiquity.com

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