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February 24, 2010

Brooklyn authenticity, Atlantic Yards, and those "Brownstone" and "Loft" suites now being marketed for the Barclays Center

Atlantic Yards Report

The term "authenticity" is being bandied about a lot these days, thanks to sociologist Sharon Zukin's new book Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places, subject of a major article in Sunday's New York Times and a forum at CUNY's Gotham Center for New York History. (Also see this interview with Zukin.)

And the concept has been used, rather aggressively, both to justify a new basketball arena in Brooklyn and to market arena suites named Loft and Brownstone, both references to Brooklyn features erased for the project.

What's authenticity?

But what exactly is authenticity? Zukin writes:

Claiming authenticity becomes prevalent at a time when identities are unstable and people are judged by their performance rather than by their history or innate character. Under these conditions authenticity differentiates a person, a product, or a group from its competitors; it confers an aura of moral superiority, a strategic advantage that each can use to its own benefit. In reality, few groups can be authentic in the contradictory ways that we use the term: on the one hand, being primal, historically first or true to a traditional vision, and on the other hand, being unique, historically new, innovative, and creative. In modern times, though it may not be necessary for a group to be authentic; it may be enough to claim to see authenticity in order to control its advantages.

If authenticity has a schizoid quality, it can also be deliberately made up of bits and pieces of cultural references...

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NoLandGrab: Authenticity is most definitely not Brett Yormark's "Loft" and "Brownstone" suites.

Posted by eric at February 24, 2010 11:06 AM