Cultural Appropriation,

Online Article: Japanese Hip-Hop and the Globalization of Popular Culture by Ian Condry:
(Links to an external site.)

Online Article:

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Video Viewing: “Faces of Culture” Video Series: Cricket the Trobriand Way:
(Links to an external site.)


After reading the two articles and watching the video, think about the issue of cultural appropriation:

“The act of using elements of a culture that are not your own (e.g. clothing, symbols, ideas) without demonstrating understanding, respect, or reverence for the culture’s history, experience, wishes, or traditions.”

Another way of saying this is that someone obtains an object, belief, practice or idea from another culture and uses it in such a way that it is insulting or damaging to the culture of origin. This can encourage marginalization and disenfranchisement of this group. An issue that is related to cultural appropriation is cultural borrowing, which refers to the use of elements of a culture other than one’s own for purposes that are not derogatory or disrespectful with regard to the culture of origin. There is sometimes a blurry line between appropriation and borrowing.

A primary issue in trying to differentiate appropriation from borrowing is the impact of the acquisition of an acquired cultural practice, idea, or product on members of the group that originated that cultural element. When trying to evaluate this process, ask yourself if the acquisition is harmful, beneficial (or at least respectful), or neutral in its effect on the culture of origin. If it is the first of these options, the cultural interaction that has taken place is appropriation. If it is the second or third outcome, the interaction would be considered borrowing.

Consider these issues after you read the article about Japanese Hip Hop and how its message can be different from that of the American creators of this music genre. Also, view the video on the British sport of Cricket, as played by the modern Trobrianders (residents of the Trobriand Islands in the South Pacific), who use the game for sport, but for other purposes as well, which go beyond the way the British ever intended the game to be used.

In your paper, discuss whether these examples of cultural interaction are appropriation or borrowing. Explain your reasoning and cite specific examples from the video (reference it by the time mark in the video) and passages in the article, identified by page number (using the standard anthropological citation format) to back up your points. Don’t refer to things in generalities. This paper should rely on specific evidence from these two sources, the significance of which you will interpret in your essay.

In the course of your paper, or as a final point, consider the article by Linton and what it means about cultural ownership. He describes the world’s cultures as borrowing from one another continuously, from ancient times to the present. How does his article affect your view of cultural appropriation and cultural borrowing?

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