Minority cultures which strive to assert their identity, secessionist demands made by nations in multinational states, the struggle for survival of indigenous peoples, special privileges demanded under the banner of religion: these and similar demands have acquired a new and urgent salience in recent years. They all turn on the issue of recognition. What minority groups demand is to have their specific identity recognized and affirmed on the public political platform. That is why modern liberalism, with its focus on the autonomous self-sufficient chooser of ends has had so much difficulty in accommodating them. But I shall not rehearse the arguments over liberalism’s (in)ability to confer recognition here. I want instead to consider Charles Taylor’s essay ‘The Politics of Recognition’ (1994) which addresses the question directly. Taylor proposes a notion of cultural authenticity whose recognition demands measures which challenge the freedom of liberalism’s autonomous subject. This essay has attracted much comment and criticism, most of it focusing on whether cultural authenticity does indeed justify restrictions on freedom. I will set out that criticism below. My main interest here, however, is the prior question of whether the notion of cultural authenticity makes sense at all: what does ‘authenticity’ really mean?; can it be applied to cultures? 1 These are very important questions, important because the demands for recognition of the kind I mentioned at the outset are made in terms of the authentic identity of a group. If group identities are more problematic than their proponents politically concede then the whole plethora of demands for recognition needs to be rethought.