Cultural Appropriation

From episode 125

58:21 Indigenous cultural appropriation and the original sin of non-aboriginals and the hazy question of who qualifies as aboriginal.

From episode 113

1:02:57 An art exhibition in South Australia is shut down because of the cultural appropriation of a sacred indigenous figure. This is a worrying trend. It leads to a conversation about copyright.

From episode 105

The problem is not that rich people can’t feel poor people’s pain; you don’t have to be the victim of inequality to want to eliminate inequality. And the problem is not that the story of the poor doesn’t belong to the rich; the relevant question about our stories is not whether they reveal someone’s privilege but whether they’re true. The problem is that the whole idea of cultural identity is incoherent, and that the dramas of appropriation it makes possible provide an increasingly economically stratified society with a model of social justice that addresses everything except that economic stratification.

From Jenner to Dolezal: One Trans Good, the Other Not So Much

From episode 101

1:01:52 Kenan Malik examines cultural appropriation.

Appropriation suggests theft, and a process analogous to the seizure of land or artifacts. In the case of culture, however, what is called appropriation is not theft but messy interaction. Writers and artists necessarily engage with the experiences of others. Nobody owns a culture, but everyone inhabits one, and in inhabiting a culture, one finds the tools for reaching out to other cultures.

Critics of cultural appropriation insist that they are opposed not to cultural engagement, but to racism. They want to protect marginalized cultures and ensure that such cultures speak for themselves, not simply be seen through the eyes of more privileged groups.

Certainly, cultural engagement does not take place on a level playing field. Racism and inequality shape the ways in which people imagine others. Yet it is difficult to see how creating gated cultures helps promote social justice.

Campaigns against cultural appropriation reveal the changing meaning of what it is to challenge racism. Once, it was a demand for equal treatment for all. Now it calls for cultures to be walled off and boundaries to be policed.
But who does the policing? Every society has its gatekeepers, whose role is to protect certain institutions, maintain the privileges of particular groups and cordon off some beliefs from challenge. Such gatekeepers protect not the marginalized but the powerful. Racism itself is a form of gatekeeping, a means of denying racialized groups equal rights, access and opportunities.

In minority communities, the gatekeepers are usually self-appointed guardians whose power rests on their ability to define what is acceptable and what is beyond the bounds. They appropriate for themselves the authority to license certain forms of cultural engagement, and in doing so, entrench their power.

The most potent form of gatekeeping is religion. When certain beliefs are deemed sacred, they are put beyond questioning. To challenge such beliefs is to commit blasphemy.

The accusation of cultural appropriation is a secular version of the charge of blasphemy. It’s the insistence that certain beliefs and images are so important to particular cultures that they may not appropriated by others.

From episode 97

47:07 You can now buy a boomerang for $1,930, however, you will have to dodge complaints of cultural appropriation. If that should happen to you we have a rebuttal argument drawing on ancient Egyptian, Indian and Polish artefacts which will help you out.

From episode 92

1:10:16 New poll finds 9 in 10 Native Americans aren’t offended by Redskins name


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