Excellent essay on what cultural appropriation is.
There are a number of issues around cultural appropriation which I see continuously bog down discussion. I think they revolve around some crucial issues undergirding the whole concept of cultural appropriation, so I think we need to “get back to basics” somewhat.
Before I go on, I’d like to acknowledge the work of Andrea Smith, particularly her article ‘Spiritual Appropriation as Sexual Violence’, printed in her book Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide as being very influential to my thinking about these issues.
I disagree with a lot of the common definitions of cultural appropriation around. Cultural appropriation isn’t simply the “taking or borrowing of some aspects of another culture from someone outside that culture”. Cultures throughout time have traded, adapted, and borrowed artefacts, symbols, technologies and narratives from one another. The issue isn’t the aesthetic and material mingling of cultures, hybridity, or that human creativity crosses cultural boundaries…
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