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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?

Political correctness gone too far Show more Show less

Western culture has a long history of borrowing from other cultures. Our cooking, art, and music demonstrates a rich blend of cultural influences. Yet all of a sudden, Western culture is not allowed to borrow from any other cultures.
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The charge of 'cultural appropriation' stops us celebrating other cultures

Cultural appropriation prevents us from enjoying and celebrating each others' cultures.

Context

Cultural appropriation prevents us from enjoying other cultures. It restricts our clothing and cooking choices and forces us to stay in our “cultural lane”.

The Argument

Cultural appropriation forces us to stay in our cultural lanes. We are not allowed to enjoy another culture’s clothing, language, hairstyles or body art without facing intense criticism and scrutiny. If we take cultural appropriation at face value, it prevents Americans or Europeans from practising yoga[1] because they do not have cultural roots in India or understand the cultural significance of the practice in Indian culture. [2] Just because one culture developed a design, look, or practice does not mean they are the only ones allowed to engage in that practice. To enforce this rule would limit societal growth and artistic progress.

Counter arguments

We are still allowed to enjoy other cultures. We can enjoy them through travel, through cooking classes, through reading books and consuming other cultures’ artwork. If we are invited to wear another culture’s clothes, at a wedding or other event where the culture we are borrowing from is represented and can give its consent, we can enjoy and appreciate another culture in that way. However, we cannot exploit another culture for financial gain or borrow from that culture without their consent or input. [3]

Proponents

Premises

[P1] Cultural appropriation forces us to stay in our cultural lanes. [P2] This prevents us enjoying other cultures and prevents societal enrichment and artistic growth. [P3] Therefore, cultural appropriation is political correctness gone too far.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] We can still enjoy other cultures, we just can't steal from them or exploit them.

References

  1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/11/23/university-yoga-class-canceled-because-of-oppression-cultural-genocide/?utm_term=.44dd89fba9b9
  2. https://www.lawliberty.org/2019/02/26/cultural-appropriation/
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXejDhRGOuI
This page was last edited on Friday, 2 Oct 2020 at 12:40 UTC

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