The Aura of Things: Locating Authenticity and the Power of Objects

Author(s): Benjamin Skolnik

Year: 2016


This paper is about authenticity and the aura, the authority and power of the physical object, historicity and the persistence of the past, and alternatives to scientific archaeology.  It is about science fiction, 20th century theorists, 21st century technology, and contemporary landscapes.  This paper examines concepts of authenticity and reproduction and how material culture is used in Philip K. Dick’s Hugo award-winning 1962 novel "The Man in the High Castle" as well as in Walter Benjamin’s 1936 essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction".  I use these ideas to suggest a way of letting artifacts "speak" to us in the present.  I consider the physical and cultural landscape of a university campus itself as an artifact to understand that it is built on a plantation landscape, modeled in plantation architecture, and operated in the present as a neo-plantation.

Cite this Record

The Aura of Things: Locating Authenticity and the Power of Objects. Benjamin Skolnik. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 435091)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 728