Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#21  Postby Thommo » Aug 03, 2018 8:10 pm

PS: I can never take anyone talking about cultural appropriation in English seriously.

If you want to complain about people taking the products of your cultural legacy, then you have to do it in the language of that cultural legacy. English is a cultural legacy itself, and the clue as to where it's from is in the name! :shifty:
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#22  Postby surreptitious57 » Aug 03, 2018 8:21 pm

English is a bastardisation of French and Latin and Greek and German and so is really a hybrid language
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#23  Postby Ironclad » Aug 03, 2018 9:14 pm

Blues and jazz have their origins in Roma gypsy music, I am reliably informed.
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#24  Postby Keep It Real » Aug 03, 2018 9:25 pm

MORGO.... :lol:
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#25  Postby Thommo » Aug 03, 2018 10:42 pm

surreptitious57 wrote:English is a bastardisation of French and Latin and Greek and German and so is really a hybrid language
We were occupied by the Normans and Romans and the Saxony in Anglo Saxony was a region of Germany
And the wise old Greeks gave us geometry and democracy and philosophy which were rather useful to us


I don't think English is a bastardisation of French or German, it has words which come from those languages (and they from English, and from each other as well). It's probably fairer to say it's a bastardisation of Latin and Greek though.

Incidentally I wouldn't read too much into my tongue in cheek post. I'm actually rather keen on people sharing good ideas rather than claiming cultural uniqueness as a means of maintaining a monopoly.
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#26  Postby Ironclad » Aug 03, 2018 11:45 pm

Identity politics..
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#27  Postby Spinozasgalt » Aug 04, 2018 2:17 am

Appropriation's typically about dominant cultural groups appropriating the cultural objects, practices etc. of minority or marginalised groups - that's how it's written about in the literature I'm familiar with, anyway. For an example, sometimes the objection is put in terms of members of the dominant culture profiting from those things produced by or in the minority or marginalised culture, while members of the latter remain in poor circumstances and/or estranged from the platforms and possibilities to profit in the same way. But it's conceptualised in all sorts of ways. Of course, if you take out the domination aspect, then things flatten and look weird. I don't know why you'd do that though. There are plenty of points at which to find the strategy and its concepts objectionable on the basis of vexed philosophical issues, but the same can be said of any attempt to conceptualise something like this. Whether the whole thing stands up will depend on broader issues about the shape of cultural groups and dilemmas and so on and so forth at the lower levels.
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#28  Postby Spinozasgalt » Aug 04, 2018 2:45 am

Ironclad wrote:Now, forgive me if I'm wrong, but dreadlocks are a Celtic design

Do you have sources for this dreadlock point, btw?
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#29  Postby Thommo » Aug 04, 2018 2:49 am

Spinozasgalt wrote:Appropriation's typically about dominant cultural groups appropriating the cultural objects, practices etc. of minority or marginalised groups - that's how it's written about in the literature I'm familiar with, anyway. For an example, sometimes the objection is put in terms of members of the dominant culture profiting from those things produced by or in the minority or marginalised culture, while members of the latter remain in poor circumstances and/or estranged from the platforms and possibilities to profit in the same way. But it's conceptualised in all sorts of ways. Of course, if you take out the domination aspect, then things flatten and look weird. I don't know why you'd do that though. There are plenty of points at which to find the strategy and its concepts objectionable on the basis of vexed philosophical issues, but the same can be said of any attempt to conceptualise something like this. Whether the whole thing stands up will depend on broader issues about the shape of cultural groups and dilemmas and so on and so forth at the lower levels.


This sounds interesting, but I find it too general to form a view about one way or another. Do you have a specific example?
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#30  Postby Spinozasgalt » Aug 04, 2018 3:14 am

There's a section in this The Ethics of Cultural Heritage article in the SEP that's not too bad, without being firmly for or against. They use a couple of examples while remaining reticent and critical, including one of UrbanOutfitters profiting "off the sale of clothes with Navajo patterns while the people of the Navajo nation grapple with poverty and its related injustices". Full disclosure though: I haven't looked into the bibliography there to see whether it's representative of broader writings on the topic.
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#31  Postby Thommo » Aug 04, 2018 3:15 am

Thanks, will give it a read! :thumbup:

ETA: Interesting enough I suppose, but not very specific and pretty low grade. Hopefully I'll remember to look into the details of Urban Outfitters vs. Navajo people. I suppose my superficial reaction to that was it's pretty distantly removed from typical applications of the term as I encounter it, but they may well have a point.
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#32  Postby laklak » Aug 04, 2018 3:39 am

Look, if you didn't want your culture appropriated you shouldn't have let us colonize you. Now all your culture belong us. Go get my whiskey and a pink gin for madam, you lazy dog!
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#33  Postby Thommo » Aug 04, 2018 3:43 am

A few things that occur to me:

-There seem to be two main thrusts of the SEP article: That the issue be viewed as an intellectual property matter, where the principle moral objections are offense and harm.
-There is an undefined notion that appropriation is rightly only an issue where a power disparity or colonialism is at play.

If the issue is one of intellectual property, on my own part I definitely feel that it should be addressed in terms of the conventional philosophy on the matter, which is to say that the foremost questions are: Who is the originator of the intellectual property? Who is the owner of the intellectual property? By what means can they enforce their intellectual property rights? How long should their intellectual property rights last before the content enters the public domain? I have very real concerns about book rights enriching the great, great grandson of an author 110 years after a book was written, and I see no reason these would not apply to a vaguer concept of ownership.

If the issue is one of colonialism, then a more sophisticated argument would seem to be required on that front. It is unclear why the claim of membership of a group which as a whole has "less power" (as that term may or may not be disputed and defined) entitles any individual (who may or may not enjoy "less power" than a typical member of the culturally opposed group) to protection due to "identification". Certainly any systematic discrimination against individuals due to perceived identity is wrong (on my view, and what I think is the accepted orthodoxy), but that's orthogonal to the suggestion that alternative rights and responsibilities exist because of the reality of discrimination.
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#34  Postby Spinozasgalt » Aug 04, 2018 4:22 am

I'd like to give you more resources, but I just don't have papers on it. It's never been something my reading's centred on. But like I say, I think a lot of this depends on background or lower level issues. Locating appropriation in a more thoroughgoing critique of colonialism and white supremacy and so on is going to look a lot more promising than in the tradition I'm personally more familiar with.

I guess I'm just wary of what philosophy applies where though. If, particularly in indigenous groups, communal forms of production and so on are predominant, then I'm hesitant about applying philosophy from the liberal tradition too quickly. Because it's pretty famously atomistic and individualist and that's something it's been fairly criticised for. And the suspicion that it's suffused with colonialism and stuff is....yeah. Dunno.
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#35  Postby Thommo » Aug 04, 2018 6:54 am

Spinozasgalt wrote:I'd like to give you more resources, but I just don't have papers on it. It's never been something my reading's centred on. But like I say, I think a lot of this depends on background or lower level issues. Locating appropriation in a more thoroughgoing critique of colonialism and white supremacy and so on is going to look a lot more promising than in the tradition I'm personally more familiar with.


That's an interesting point. I suppose (perhaps unfairly, and I would suspect not unconnected to my natural disquiet with identity politics in general) I'm intuitively unsympathetic to it. The evils of colonialism seem to me to stand apart (and I certainly do not dispute that they are evils, as far as they are active harms like rape, murder, enslavement, subduement, forced labour camps, robberies and all too many other ills) from modern day intellectual property rights or any other control of information or identification.

There're certainly actively racist things which get called cultural appropriation (e.g. the Washington Redskins name and logo), but the problem there seems to be the active racism, rather than any claim to the iconography. I'm certainly troubled by the broader view that the SEP takes that says that cultural appropriation can be either a neutral or negative term, when outside the ivory tower it's pretty clearly always a negative term. That seems to make the footing of the philosophical analysis there at best dubious.
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#36  Postby LucidFlight » Aug 04, 2018 8:00 am

Ironclad wrote:Blues and jazz have their origins in Roma gypsy music, I am reliably informed.

Blues and jazz music culturally appropriate many European musical instruments and the twelve-note chromatic scale — and don't get me started on the white piano notes.
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#37  Postby Rachel Bronwyn » Aug 04, 2018 9:02 am

The OP doesn't seem to have anything to do with appropriation so much as representation and hiring practices in Hollywood.

There is nothing inherently problematic with casting performers of different genders or ethnicities or whatever to play certain roles.

Ghost in the Shell was an example of whitewashing. White actors were utilised to portray characters in a Japanese story. That's fine except that it was an obvious opportunity for Japanese or Japanese American actors to be represented in American cinema. Instead, more white folks. White folks are extremely well represented in Hollywood. Japanese and Japanese American people? Not so much. The groups are not on equal footing as far as representation in American cinema goes. That's where the problem lies.

People felt exactly the same way about Tilda Swinton's role in Dr. Strange. No one cares that the role was given to a woman because men are already very well represented and better compensated for their work in Hollywood than women. The problem was with the role of someone from the Himalayas being rewritten for a white actor. It was another missed opportunity to represent a non-white person in American cinema, which is dominantly white.

Whitewashing is what perpetuates the lack of representation of minorities in Hollywood, whether we're talking about ethnicity or disability or gender or sexual orientation or whatever. It's unfortunate.
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#38  Postby Macdoc » Aug 04, 2018 9:13 am

Good post :clap:

The unfortunate reality is "stars" are cast outside their ethnicity for the draw factor their name produces and that is nearly impossible to counteract. However in that case a focus on making the minor roles off set the cultural mistep at least is some progress,

What I would lke to see is more authencity and broader diversity in the supporting roles... We are seeing people in wheelchairs in ads, gay kids, gay parents, single parents ..that diversity should reflect in the movies as well.
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#39  Postby I'm With Stupid » Aug 04, 2018 4:05 pm

Thommo wrote:If the issue is one of intellectual property, on my own part I definitely feel that it should be addressed in terms of the conventional philosophy on the matter, which is to say that the foremost questions are: Who is the originator of the intellectual property? Who is the owner of the intellectual property? By what means can they enforce their intellectual property rights? How long should their intellectual property rights last before the content enters the public domain? I have very real concerns about book rights enriching the great, great grandson of an author 110 years after a book was written, and I see no reason these would not apply to a vaguer concept of ownership.

There's definitely increasing moves in Europe to protect wider cultural property that "belongs" to a particular region. The most famous example is champagne, but there are an increasing number of products that can only be labelled as such if they're produced in a particular place. It would presumably be possible to do so with Native American cultural property. But it's only really relevant if you have an actual product to monetize. The protection that something like Harris tweed enjoys allows the area of the world that invented it to build a small industry around it and benefit from it. Of course there's nothing to stop anyone making and selling a tweed jacket that's basically identical, just like anyone can make sparkling wine that's indistinguishable from champagne.

I think it's trickier if you have a cultural practice or product that you want to protect in the sense of not allowing anyone not from the group to engage with it. Like for example a recent story about a non-Maori woman being given a Maori tattoo, which caused a bit of a fuss in New Zealand, but also a lot of "well she paid for it, so she can get what she wants."
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#40  Postby Keep It Real » Aug 04, 2018 4:08 pm

Only idiots drink champagne - except on VERY special occasions. Cava on the other hand...
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