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What is cultural appropriation? Show more Show less
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Cultural appropriation, the adoption of aspects of another culture by members of a dominant culture, is not a new phenomenon. Today, wearing an insensitive Halloween costume or sporting a certain hairstyle can draw accusations of cultural appropriation. But what is cultural appropriation? A form of neo-colonialism? Racism? Cultural theft? Political correctness gone too far? Or is cultural appropriation actually cultural appreciation?

Cultural appropriation is a meaningless term Show more Show less

Cultural appropriation is at best an imprecise term, and at worse, outright meaningless.
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Cultural colonization would be a better term

Cultural appropriation only takes place when a dominant culture appropriates a minority culture. Cultural colonization would be a better term to encapsulate this phenomenon.
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Context

Cultural appropriation is when a dominant culture borrows or steals elements from a minority culture. Cultural appropriation fails to adequately encapsulate the colonial aspect of cultural appropriation. Therefore, cultural colonization would be a better term.

The Argument

Cultural colonialism would be a better term than cultural appropriation because it isn’t a problem when cultures of a dominant class are borrowed by another dominant class. Cultural appropriation only becomes offensive when a colonial power appropriates an oppressed culture.[1]

Counter arguments

In Canada, indigenous people boycotted the Canadian Indigenous Music awards over the nomination of a singer that uses traditional Inuit throat-singing techniques despite not belonging to the specific tribe that uses those techniques. [2] This case of cultural appropriation goes against the notion of cultural colonialism as a better term. The singer was Cree and was, therefore, a minority herself, belonging to a minority group with a history of marginalization in North America. However, those that are accusing her of cultural appropriation are also minorities. This is not a form of cultural colonialism, as the Cree tribe are not oppressors nor a dominant race. However, evidently minority on minority cultural appropriation still has the power to cause offense and should be included under the banner of cultural appropriation. [3]

Premises

[P1] Cultural appropriation can only occur when a dominant culture borrows from a minority culture. [P2] A term that better reflects this power imbalance would be more accurate. [P3] Cultural colonization incorporates the power balances at play in cultural appropriation. [P4] Therefore, cultural colonization would be a better term.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Minority on minority cultural appropriation exists and can be as damaging as majority on minority appropriation.

References

  1. https://www.archivesdelacritiquedart.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/AICA76-Com-Kenneth-Coutts-Smith.pdf
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/09/canada-indigenous-music-awards-inuit-cree-cultural-appropriation
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/29/cultural-appropriation-racial-oppression-exploitation-colonialism
This page was last edited on Friday, 7 Feb 2020 at 16:32 UTC

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