Authenticity has been recognized as a theoretically and practically complex and important issue, on which numerous articles have been published. For example, the Bibliographic Database of the ICOMOS Documentation Centre shows almost six hundred hits as the result of a keyword search for authenticity.1 These publications from the period between 1981 and 2013 often focus only on specific topics such as reconstruction, 2 historic city centers, 3 cultural landscapes, 4 twentieth-century architecture, 5 or specific regions.6 It is not easy to get an overview of the current state of debates on authenticity. Few articles clearly guide us in an understanding of current issues on authenticity7—a very unfortunate situation in the context of world heritage, since the normative effect of authenticity affects a number of stakeholders.
The anniversary year of the two fundamental documents on authenticity—the Venice Charter of 1964 and the Nara Document of 1994—is an appropriate moment to revisit debates on authenticity8 and to illustrate the evolution of the concept in the context of world heritage. Such a discussion could confirm our current perspective and serve as a foundation for future-looking considerations. For this purpose, this paper considers the following in its analysis: (1) authenticity in the context of world heritage, drawing on debates with a functional rather than strictly theoretical or philosophical aspect; (2) the possibility that charters and some other documents adopted by ICOMOS could influence the substance of hard law through the system of institutionalized advisory bodies, and (3) primary source materials mainly from official records of the World Heritage Committee in addition to some documents adopted by ICOMOS in order to minimize bias.
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