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Cultural Appropriation: The Politics, and Ethics of Ethnographic Inquiry

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Cultural Appropriation: The Politics, and Ethics of Ethnographic Inquiry In Canada, in the 1990's, Aboriginal writers are a growing and vibrant population. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Cultural Appropriation: The Politics, and Ethics of Ethnographic Inquiry


1
Cultural Appropriation The Politics, and Ethics
of Ethnographic Inquiry
  • In Canada, in the 1990's, Aboriginal writers are
    a growing and vibrant population. But it wasn't
    always this way. In fact, in order to read about
    Aboriginal people you had to use books that
    weren't written by Aboriginal people. Usually
    written by anthropologists, missionaries or
    adventurers, these books depicted Aboriginal
    people with varying levels of accuracy...
    (Kenneth Williams).

2
Cultural Appropriation
  • Postcolonial critique of representation
  • --orientalism, feminist anthropology,
    postmodernism, etc.
  • Peoples efforts towards self-determination
  • --Third World, Fourth World

3
Appropriation
  • To take possession of another's material, often
    without permission, reusing it in a context which
    differs from its original context, most often in
    order to examine issues concerning originality or
    to reveal meaning not previously seen in the
    original. This is far more aggressive than
    allusion or quotation it is not the same as
    plagiarism however. (Art Dictionary)

4
Cultural Appropriation
  • Cultural appropriation is the theft of rituals,
    aesthetic standards and behavior from one culture
    by another, generally by a "modern" culture from
    a "primitive" culture often this involves the
    conversion of religion and spirituality into
    "meaningless" pop-culture. Example Katsinasbeings

5
Aholi and Hano-Mana
  • Supernatural beings to the Hopis of Arizona
  • Messengers from the spiritual world
  • Gifts and food

6
Appropriation
  • Multidirectional
  • A political action Dominant culture takes from
    subordinate one
  • Cultural assimilation Globalization of
    information

7
If political one should consider
  • 1. Impact on subordinate group---the role of
    cultural representations in a culture
  • 2. Wo benefits (financially) from
    appropriation?--power relations, economic, and
    other advantages
  • 3. Laws are inadequate to protect subordinate
    groups--laws need to be changed to protect
    subordinate groups from cultural appropriation

8
Questions in anthropology
  • How is cultural appropriation related to
    ethnographic inquiry?
  • Who owns ethnographic information?
  • Who should have the rightful claim to
    ethnographic materials?
  • Can anthropological cultural representation be
    considered cultural appropriation? Why?

9
Repatriation
  • --Sharing ethnographic materials with subjects
  • --Sending ethnographic information back to the
    community studied

10
Influenced by two forces
  • The questioning of cultural representation by
    Indigenous peoples--Whose interests are
    represented
  • Growing ethical and political concerns in
    anthropology--correct some eurocentric attitudes
    of the past (colonialism and cultural
    appropriation)

11
Major developments contributing to its reversal
  • Indigenous resistance --interest groups
    --intellectual property, Indigenous nationalism
  • Changing attitudes in institutions and government
    agencies -- New rules and ethical guidelines, AAA
    changing rules, strict rules, more sensitivity
    towards other cultures

12
Conundrum for anthropologists
  • No longer an unquestionable source of academic
    authority
  • What does repatriation imply?

13
Factors Underpinning the Repatriation Debate
  • Legacy of past and present exploitation is now
    acknowledged
  • Indigenous peoples organization
  • Efforts by governments and academic to correct
    the mistakes of the past on the issue

14
The Act of Repatriation Should Make Sure that
  • Information should not harm either the community
    or the informants
  • It should not harm the interest of academic
    research

15
Stephen Glazier (1993)
  • Responding To The Anthropologist When The
    Spiritual Baptists of Trinidad Read What I Write
    About Them
  • --Ethnographic materials should be viewed as part
    of a continuous process

16
The Problems with Repatriation
  • Opens some possibilities but also closes other
    avenues for research
  • Promotes acceptance at the same time can fuel
    misunderstandings
  • Can be used by some groups against other groups
    in the community
  • Sometimes it does not fulfill subjects
    expectations

17
Discussion Question
  • What are the technical, ethical and political
    consequences of repatriation for ethnographers
    and subjects?
  • Do the potential problems of repatriation (for
    ethnographers and subjects) outweigh the benefits
    of cultural appropriation?
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