The fear of the fake: What “authenticity” means to a foreigner in a strange land.

Another interesting post from Married to Italy on one of the challenges of being an expat: how to keep hold of your own cultural identity whilst embracing a new one.

A lovely post. Enjoy.

Married to Italy

French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre said,

Authenticity, it is almost needless to say, consists in having a true and lucid consciousness of the situation, in assuming the responsibilities and risks that it involves, in accepting it in pride or humiliation, sometimes in horror and hate.

Let me repeat that last bit: “humiliation”, “horror or hate”. The three H’s, if you will. Three sentiments that every expat/immigrant/foreigner becomes quite familiar with over the years of trying to adjust to a new culture without losing the one left behind.

Authenticity is a loaded word with a lot of baggage in the life of an expat or immigrant.

  • Are my experiences here “authentically Italian” and am I representing them in an authentic way?
  • Am I being “authentic to myself” as I change over the years in this new culture?
  • What even IS something “authentically Italian”? An old man on a bike with a prosciutto…

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