This book is about the yearning for authenticity via art and exoticism. Exoticism related to art cannot be reduced to primitivism alone and also encompasses a search in one's own unconsciousness among other things. The yearning for authenticity through exoticism is explored in a cultural anthropological perspective in the realms of Western philosophy ( capita selecta) and colonial literature, currents of art, and in the appreciation of Western art conceptions in non-Western societies. An array of firsthand ethnographic illustrations of art production in Asian and Pacific societies demonstrates complementary processes in the non-Western world. A major hypothesis is that exoticism is closely related to, and often motivated by eroticism, a reason why exoticism should be considered as gendered. Case studies of the falsification of authentic art, the de-sacralization of sacred objects, and of the use of natural materials deriving from endangered species complete the analysis.
Paul van der Grijp is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Lyon ( 'Université Lumière'), France, and a member of both the Anthropological Research and Study Centre (CREA) in Lyon and the Research and Documentation Center on Oceania (CREDO) at the Maison Asie-Pacifique in Marseilles. His previous books include Islanders of the South: Production, Kinship and Ideology in the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga (Leiden: KITLV Press, 1993), Identity and Development: Tongan Culture, Agriculture and the Perenniality of the Gift (Leiden: KITLV Press, 2004), and Passion and Profit: Towards an Anthropology of Collecting (Berlin: LIT Verlag, 2006).