the Oberlin cultural appropriation controversy, revisited

(Washington, DC) In 2016, I began a blog post: The Oberlin College Cultural Appropriation Controversy is almost certainly getting more attention than it deserves because it reinforces critiques of political correctness in higher education. Nevertheless, it provides an interesting case to consider the general questions: What is cultural appropriation, and when is it bad? Some Oberlin students […]

notes on cultural appropriation after the royal wedding

In the current debate about “cultural appropriation,” I would offer these premises: everything is mixed, mixing is good, having your culture borrowed can give you more power, and demands for authenticity are problematic. Although I recognize exceptions and complications, we should start by welcoming “appropriation.” I have not seen anyone complain that the recent royal wedding […]

what is cultural appropriation?

Matt Walsh, who writes from the perspective of the religious right, garnered widespread attention after sharing his dismay that Christians indulge in “Hindu worship” like yoga. … It’s worth noting that he’s not necessarily wrong. Yoga derives from ancient Indian spiritual practices and an explicitly religious element of Hinduism …. Modern practice has been commodified, […]

when is cultural appropriation good or bad?

The Oberlin College Cultural Appropriation Controversy is almost certainly getting more attention than it deserves because it reinforces critiques of political correctness in higher education. Nevertheless, it provides an interesting case to consider the general questions: What is cultural appropriation, and when is it bad? Some Oberlin students criticized Oberlin’s dining hall’s bánh mì and […]

cultural mixing and power

  These two objects were juxtaposed during a wonderful Tisch Talk in the Humanities yesterday, with Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Lisa Lowe from Tufts’ Department of English. On the left, an 18th century desk made in colonial Mexico that’s now in the Boston Museum of Fine […]