By James O. Young
Now, for the 1st time, a thinker undertakes a scientific research of the ethical and aesthetic concerns to which cultural appropriation offers upward push. Cultural appropriation is a pervasive characteristic of the modern global (the Parthenon Marbles stay in London; white musicians from Bix Beiderbeck to Eric Clapton have appropriated musical types from African-American culture)Young deals the 1st systematic philosophical research of the ethical and aesthetic matters to which cultural appropriation supplies riseTackles head at the thorny matters bobbing up from the conflict and integration of cultures and their artifactsQuestions thought of contain: “Can cultural appropriation bring about the construction of aesthetically winning works of art?” and “Is cultural appropriation within the arts morally objectionable?”Part of the extremely popular New instructions in Aesthetics sequence
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Extra info for Cultural Appropriation and the Arts (New Directions in Aesthetics)
71. 21 What Is Cultural Appropriation? Sometimes acts of theft are defensible. A father may steal a loaf of bread (from someone with lots of bread) if it is the only way to feed his children. He does not act wrongly. The father is excused by necessity. (Here, as elsewhere in this essay, I am concerned with moral, not legal, questions. That is, I am interested in the question of when cultural appropriation is morally wrong, not when it is illegal. Legality varies from culture to culture. ) I find it difficult to imagine a scenario where an act of cultural appropriation can similarly be excused by necessity.
The appropriation of these sculptures was morally equivalent to a bank heist. The case of the Zuni War God figurines provides us with another clear case of immoral cultural appropriation. Each year members of the Zuni people of the American south west commission the carving of two War Gods (or Ahayu:da), which are believed to guide and protect the tribe. At the end of a year, the figurines are taken into the wilderness and left exposed to the elements. The Zuni people believe that the War Gods must be allowed to decay so that their powers may return to the earth.
Perhaps no member of the culture has all of the traits associated with the culture. Consider, for example, Canadian culture. It is to be defined in terms of a set of cultural traits, including but not limited to being passionate about ice hockey, being suspicious of American foreign policy, valuing universal health care, having an opinion about the future of the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), knowing (some of ) the words to Oh, Canada, being committed to parliamentary democracy, caring about a new book by Margaret Atwood, and so on.
Cultural Appropriation and the Arts (New Directions in Aesthetics) by James O. Young