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Authenticity of a National Icon

Authenticity & Tourism

ISBN: 978-1-78754-817-6, eISBN: 978-1-78754-816-9

Publication date: 14 September 2018


Approximately 70 years ago, descendants of Trinidadian enslaved Africans created an instrument from steel drums discarded by the US Navy. Since then, the steelpan has attracted entrepreneurs from around the world because of its unique sound, and, as the quintessential instrument for the pre-Lenten Trinidad Carnival, it also entices tourists. Its production did not stay under the “breadfruit tree”; however, as they are now mass produced and even patented abroad. Some argue this amounts to cultural piracy, as the steelpan is more than an artifact but is the mentifactual property of a people. Thus, the question remains whether the authenticity of the steelpan is lost when not crafted within the landscape of Trinidad.



Coomansingh, J. (2018), "Authenticity of a National Icon", Authenticity & Tourism (Tourism Social Science Series, Vol. 24), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 89-107.



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