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< Back to question What is cultural appropriation? Show more Show less

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?

A cultural appreciation Show more Show less

Borrowing aspects of another culture is a sign of respect. It indicates others want to emulate that culture, which is fundamentally a compliment.
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Emulation is a form of appreciation

Emulating another culture should be a source of flattery as it indicates that citizens of another culture like elements of another culture so much that want to incorporate it into their culture.
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We emulate behaviour and aesthetic that we find attractive and appealing. Therefore, cultural appropriation is a gesture of appreciation for another culture.

The Argument

If the Kardashians braid their hair, they are making a statement that they like the way the braids look and are therefore showing an appreciation to the culture they are emulating.[1] Rather than taking offence when another race or ethnicity borrows aspects of another culture, we should see it for the appreciative gesture that it is.

Counter arguments

Cultural appropriation is inherently dangerous, even when it is intended as a compliment. By treating another cultural norm as an exotic look or adventure, the dominant culture is reinforcing the idea that the minority culture is “strange” or “different”. Even when this is intended as a compliment, it establishes the minority group as an “other” or alien, which is clearly offensive.


[P1] We emulate behaviour and designs we like. [P2] Cultural appropriation involves emulating another culture's practices or aesthetic. [P3] Therefore, cultural appropriation is a gesture of respect for another culture.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P3] Even if it is intended as a gesture of respect, it has dangerous implications.



This page was last edited on Monday, 22 Jun 2020 at 03:35 UTC


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