Author Topic: some thoughts on cultural appropriation  (Read 90477 times)

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Offline D4M10N

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #180 on: April 07, 2017, 12:36:09 PM »



A telling comparison. Homicide is generally assumed to be unjustified (and terribly harmful) unless some adequate justification can be shown to exist. If you admit to killing someone, you'd better have a damn good explanation. If you admit to borrowing ideas from another culture...?
But as has been explained, that is not the entirety of what cultural appropriation *is*. Seriously, it's very hard to not be snarky with you because it really, really looks like you're doing this on purpose.

If you read a bit more closely, you will see that I was comparing homicide (which breaks down into two separate categories based on moral valence) to borrowing ideas from another culture (which is also broken down into two categories based on moral valence).

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Offline Johnny Slick

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #181 on: April 07, 2017, 02:12:00 PM »



A telling comparison. Homicide is generally assumed to be unjustified (and terribly harmful) unless some adequate justification can be shown to exist. If you admit to killing someone, you'd better have a damn good explanation. If you admit to borrowing ideas from another culture...?
But as has been explained, that is not the entirety of what cultural appropriation *is*. Seriously, it's very hard to not be snarky with you because it really, really looks like you're doing this on purpose.

If you read a bit more closely, you will see that I was comparing homicide (which breaks down into two separate categories based on moral valence) to borrowing ideas from another culture (which is also broken down into two categories based on moral valence).

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Well, no, you started with cultural appropriation, which, as has been pointed out several times already, is already the "non-justifiable homicide" aspect and then in that very last post you shifted the goalposts backwards. If you are trying to ask whether or not people think that some acts of appropriation are worse than others, I think most people would agree to that. You're not going to get hard and fast rules on this, though, because this is not a science, these are value judgments.
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Offline D4M10N

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #182 on: April 07, 2017, 02:29:10 PM »
Nope. I'll help you by bolding the categories being compared.

Quote
Homicide is generally assumed to be unjustified (and terribly harmful) unless some adequate justification can be shown to exist. If you admit to killing someone, you'd better have a damn good explanation. If you admit to borrowing ideas from another culture...?

Homicide breaks down into justifiable homicide (murder) and unjustifiable homicide. The vast majority of the time, we tend to see homicide as unjustifiable.

Borrowing ideas from another culture breaks down into justifiable (cultural exchange) and unjustifiable (cultural appropriation) as well. I'm unclear on the ratio here.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2017, 02:33:21 PM by D4M10N »

Offline SkeptiQueer

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #183 on: April 07, 2017, 02:50:02 PM »
Some of my favorite experiences/languages/people are the result of a massive mish-mashup of two or more cultures. Hard to find fault, really, unless someone is deliberately mocking your culture.

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So we've gone from "hard to find fault unless directly mocking" to demanding that there be a ratio of good to bad. Progress?
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Offline Drunken Idaho

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #184 on: April 07, 2017, 03:00:41 PM »
No no no. We're getting into definitions territory here. Cultural "appropriation" is defined as harmful. If it isn't harmful, it isn't appropriation.

The words "cultural" and "appropriation" mean specific things. When "appropriation" modifies "cultural," it means another thing--a thing which may or not be harmful.

I don't agree with using "cultural appropriation" to only mean harmful appropriation, because it makes the meaning ambiguous. If you'd like to refer to "harmful cultural appropriation," I think you should refer to it as such, or invent a new term to refer to it if it so pleases you--but we can't assume that the literal definitions of the words do or should change at the whim of a (well-intentioned) cultural movement.

Do you also object to defining murder as unlawful killing?

Sounds about right.

I'd object to somebody suddenly deciding that killing is defined as murder, though, which I think is the corollary to the current discussion.

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Nope.  Not until you can read and comprehend your own citations.

I'm attempting to discuss with you honestly and politely; the least you can do is the same.

The multiple definitions listed in every dictionary seem to support my point that "cultural appropriation" can mean any sort of cultural borrowing, regardless of whether or not more good or bad results from it. Where do you take issue?
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Offline The Latinist

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #185 on: April 07, 2017, 03:08:26 PM »
People kill other people all the time, and most killings we don't call murder.  For one reason or other, we accept these killings are at least less bad.  We bomb people.  We shoot them on the battlefield.  We kill them in self-defense or defense of others.  Those are killings, but they are not murder.  And yet we are perfectly capable of distinguishing murder as a specific class of unjustified killing.

Likewise, as human beings, we share culture.  We borrow.  We build upon it.  We make new and better things from it.  We've been doing that from time immemorial.  Nobody in this thread has denied that positive and mutually beneficial cultural exchange exists.  But that fact should not prevent us from recognizing cultural appropriation as a specific class of cultural borrowing that is distinguished from the larger class by the fact that it harms others.
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Offline Drunken Idaho

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #186 on: April 07, 2017, 03:11:47 PM »
People kill other people all the time, and most killings we don't call murder.  For one reason or other, we accept these killings are at least less bad.  We bomb people.  We shoot them on the battlefield.  We kill them in self-defense or defense of others.  Those are killings, but they are not murder.  And yet we are perfectly capable of distinguishing murder as a specific class of unjustified killing.

Likewise, as human beings, we share culture.  We borrow.  We build upon it.  We make new and better things from it.  We've been doing that from time immemorial.  Nobody in this thread has denied that positive and mutually beneficial cultural exchange exists.  But that fact should not prevent us from recognizing cultural appropriation as a specific class of cultural borrowing that is distinguished from the larger class by the fact that it harms others.

Ah, so I think our only disagreement is that I don't think "cultural appropriation" should be used to recognize only those examples which cause harm, since it already has a reasonable and useful definition.

If you'd like a term to refer to only negative examples, I think you should make one up, or just refer to "negative cultural appropriation." I think this would prevent a great deal of misunderstanding in discussions, especially with those not "in the loop" on the social justice front.
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Offline The Latinist

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #187 on: April 07, 2017, 03:18:15 PM »
People kill other people all the time, and most killings we don't call murder.  For one reason or other, we accept these killings are at least less bad.  We bomb people.  We shoot them on the battlefield.  We kill them in self-defense or defense of others.  Those are killings, but they are not murder.  And yet we are perfectly capable of distinguishing murder as a specific class of unjustified killing.

Likewise, as human beings, we share culture.  We borrow.  We build upon it.  We make new and better things from it.  We've been doing that from time immemorial.  Nobody in this thread has denied that positive and mutually beneficial cultural exchange exists.  But that fact should not prevent us from recognizing cultural appropriation as a specific class of cultural borrowing that is distinguished from the larger class by the fact that it harms others.

Ah, so I think our only disagreement is that I don't think "cultural appropriation" should be used to recognize only those examples which cause harm, since it already has a reasonable and useful definition.

If you'd like a term to refer to only negative examples, I think you should make one up, or just refer to "negative cultural appropriation." I think this would prevent a great deal of misunderstanding in discussions, especially with those not "in the loop" on the social justice front.

I have never heard anyone use the term "cultural appropriation" to refer to any cultural borrowing that they did not consider harmful.  It is not a term that has been used for centuries in a positive sense and which we are now trying to redefine; it's a term that was invented for the express purpose of describing harmful exploitation of other people's cultures.  It is only those who reject the notion of cultural appropriation who seek to conflate it with positive cultural exchange.  It is they (and you) who are redefining the term, not us.
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Offline Drunken Idaho

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #188 on: April 07, 2017, 03:27:48 PM »
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I have never heard anyone use the term "cultural appropriation" to refer to any cultural borrowing that they did not consider harmful.  It is not a term that has been used for centuries in a positive sense and which we are now trying to redefine; it's a term that was invented for the express purpose of describing harmful exploitation of other people's cultures.  It is only those who reject the notion of cultural appropriation who seek to conflate it with positive cultural exchange.  It is they (and you) who are redefining the term, not us.

It was a common phrase in my many years of music education, and it rarely commented on harm (or lack thereof), it simply used to recognize when a certain expression had been taken/borrowed/whatever from a culture which was separate from the culture employing it.

It's not an uncommon phrase. It's become a hot topic in social justice circles, and of course if one is active in them, then 99.99% of the uses of the phrase will be exactly what you're saying--but the phrase is and has been frequently used to mean the literal definition of the phrase.

"...only in negative context" is a new thing, tacked on by discussions such as this one. Hell, I think it would even be fine to say, "for the purposes of this discussion, please understand that when I say 'cultural appropriation,' I'm only referring to its harmful applications." But if you demand that the phrase is connected to the "only in negative context" addendum, then you're going to cause a lot of unnecessary argument and confusion in those not privy to this idea--even if it's common in the social justice circles.
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Offline Johnny Slick

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #189 on: April 07, 2017, 03:31:11 PM »
I don't remember it being used in music education in the 1990s.
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Offline Redamare

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #190 on: April 07, 2017, 03:34:25 PM »
Lat is not deciding to define cultural appropriation that way. It is defined as bad. That's what the term was coined for. The generic term is cultural exchange.

Here's how I look at it:

"Hey cultural exchange is great, huh?"

"Yeah sure! Except when it's not, I guess."

"Huh? What do you mean?"

"Well, sometimes a dominant or privileged culture takes something from a less powerful one and treats it abusively, like white people wearing Native Headdresses. Or they take an idea that was developed at great expense over a long time by one culture, and someone who is already connected to the greater technological infrastructure of a dominant one spins it up into a highly lucrative business before any member of the less powerful one has a chance to market it competitively."

"Oh, sure. Except that's not really an 'exchange,' is it?"

"I guess you're right. More like just presumptuously appropriating culture or something."

"Say, I bet we could make a coherent and consistent political message about this that could raise awareness and reduce some of this exploitation!"

****months later****

"Oh, God, that was a terrible idea."

"I know." <sigh> "Were we that stupid when we were politically woke college students?"
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Offline Harry Black

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #191 on: April 07, 2017, 03:38:26 PM »
Leaving aside your musical training, why is it so difficult for you to parse via context what people think of the examples they are discussing?
Why is it so hard to accept that many people refer to the positive things you refer to under a different term?
Whether or not rock'n'roll is classed as cultural appropriation has fuck all to do with any of Superdaves initial examples or pretty much any example brought up since.

Redamare, Ive been meaning to take a shot at your earlier question about how much of a priority the issue should be.

I say, as much of a priority as any individual wants to make it.
I rarely hear about it outside of people declaring it bullshit or the odd op ed about a specific instance. It doesnt seem to be blocking anything to be honest but it is helping some groups to vocalise the feelings they have apparently had for quite a while.

Offline Drunken Idaho

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #192 on: April 07, 2017, 03:45:23 PM »
Lat is not deciding to define cultural appropriation that way. It is defined as bad. That's what the term was coined for. The generic term is cultural exchange.

But it wasn't. Saying it's so doesn't make it so. It's been used to mean *not* that for a very long time, but it has recently become popular in social justice circles to use it as shorthand for the negative kind. That's fine--but I'm saying that the original definition has not changed.

Leaving aside your musical training, why is it so difficult for you to parse via context what people think of the examples they are discussing?
Why is it so hard to accept that many people refer to the positive things you refer to under a different term?
Whether or not rock'n'roll is classed as cultural appropriation has fuck all to do with any of Superdaves initial examples or pretty much any example brought up since.

I think it's important to use language clearly and precisely. I think asserting that "cultural appropriation" only refers to negative instances will lead to unnecessary confusion and argument, especially with folks not in the loop on current social justice discussions.

By the same token--why not just say, "when I say cultural appropriation, I'm only referring to negative instances, because I recognize that not all instances of cultural appropriation are negative." Done. Everybody's happy, and nobody's confused about your language usage.
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Offline SkeptiQueer

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #193 on: April 07, 2017, 04:02:52 PM »


By the same token--why not just say, "when I say cultural appropriation, I'm only referring to negative instances, because I recognize that not all instances of cultural appropriation are negative." Done. Everybody's happy, and nobody's confused about your language usage.
Because nobody confused enough to think that cultural appropriation is about enforcing total cultural isolation will be having these conversations. It's not that the word choice is confusing to anyone, it's that the detractors often resort to referencing cultural exchange as a way of trying to minimize or delegitimize the discussion if cultural appropriation.

Changing the word won't solve the issue because the word is not the source of the issue.
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Offline Harry Black

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #194 on: April 07, 2017, 04:09:55 PM »
Right.
The conversation starts by someone making a complaint specific to how their own culture is being treated.
Lets say chinese spiritualism for example (substitute whatever you like)
People then say "But I love asian fusion and burritos so sit the fuck down."
Its not an honest exchange. The conversation switches from the specific complaint to the question of why we white folks should care about your feelings.
Are your feelings even real?
I dont have those feelings. You should get over it.


 

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