If you steal something from me, you infringe on my possibility to use my property as I wish. If you steal my car, I can no longer use it. If you steal my intellectual property, for example the song I created, I can no longer make money with that song as I did before.
Most examples of "cultural theft" are just examples of cultural transfer, one culture adopts ideas or practices some other people invented. Did the Maori invent tattoos? Or maybe did their ancestors adopt it from some neighbor tribe long ago? - - When we in the West adopt tattoos or a music style Black people created, the possibility of those who used it before is not infringed. The Maori can still practice their tradition like they did. Black people could still play the Blues like they did, even after white musicians started to adopt this kind of music.
The whole concept that a culture "owns" some idea is rubbish. Do we Germans "own" our words? Did Americans, when they adopted German words like "kindergarten" or "zeitgeist" steal our property? Does not make sense to me.
This is a very complex issue. It is definitely possible to seriously disrespect and yes, to infringe upon the intellectual property of minorities to a financially damaging extent if that’s the definition you like, and we have and continue to do exactly that to as many minorities as we can as white people. And it is also possible to be overly sensitive about cultural appropriation in an attempt to capitalize on identity politics and keep yourself in a victim mentality. Guess which attitude has been running rampant for the past few hundred years?
In America, primarily black music and culture has been profited on to the exclusion of the black people who created it themselves. This cannot be denied. Elvis became famous for something Big Mama Thornton should have had a monopoly on, end of story. She wrote Hounddog and should have at least received some serious royalties/been asked before Elvis could cover it. If a black person stole on that magnitude from a white person they’d be under the jail, not singin about it.
There are many such examples of individual songs being stolen by white artists. It undoubtedly had a tremendous negative financial effect on them if that’s what you care most about, but at the same time the gray area is it was a cultural exchange going on. If British Invasion artists hadn’t been ripping off black blues guys and shipping our own race records back to us in a more culturally acceptable form at the time, most white people never would have heard the music over here and begun integrating their interests. Still, it’s wrong to steal from a disadvantaged person even if it gains them exposure. It’s not like they eventually made back the difference.
So those examples of particular songs being stolen directly are one thing, but when it comes to styles of art, no one can really own it. For example, I’m an aryan redneck by birth but I became a jazz/rock/funk/folk/soul musician. Black people invented 4/5 of those styles of music and were sandbagged out of most of the rights and royalties due to them for it, no argument. If I go sing a Sam Cooke song at open mic, I doubt I’m hurting any black folks feelings. If I take a gig that a legitimate black soul artist could have hadon MTV to do Aretha franklins tribute and talk about how underprivileged I was for most of it like Madonna has done to what, 3 black music legends? that’s fucking racist. See the difference?
The fact that I like to play Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder n the Meters isn’t hurting any black people because I’m showing reverence for their culture and art. If I recorded and tried to sell music I heard my black friend writing without telling him, that’s when it becomes theft. Things like white guys getting tribal tattoos isn’t and shouldn’t be illegal, but it absolutely makes you look like a douchebag that has no idea what’s up with his fellow man and wants to look “hard” without earning it. I would accept a tribal tattoo only if I was staying with the actual tribe and they offered it. There’s a big trend of non Buddhists using their sacred symbols to decorate with and that’s not illegal either, but if I belonged to any demographic other than “white guy in America” I would certainly understandably be pissed if the boring white people who took advantage of our labor while looking down on us started wearing our culture as costumes and decorating with it. It’s not illegal nor should it be, it just lets everyone know what level of tact and social awareness you have.
If you wanna be the kinda guy that goes around paying for trinkets from other people’s culture that you think makes you look more interesting than you are, that’s on you. Not illegal but not recommended, I heard a comedian with a good idea the other day: if you wanna wear a sombrero for cinco de mayo you gotta help us out n kill an ICE agent. You get two, you get to wear a poncho. ?
Im being facetious but there’s a grey area and a red line for all these things. It’s highly subjective but a lot of us undoubtedly cross lines of hypocrisy in who we vote for compared to who we imitate. Common sense and cultural sensitivity are still underrated these days and just making the tiniest effort to understand each other and respect each other’s culture (if you’re going to borrow from it at least) will go a long way. Things like getting upset about white guys wearing dreads on the other hand is ludicrous. People of every race at one time had dreads, that’s just what happens when you don’t wash your hair. So there are some red herrings being called to these ends but most people who care about social justice aren’t the militant ones that want to fire you for not remembering zoltans pronoun is zer. Most of us are just people who would kindly ask you to not be afraid to talk to brown people if you’re going to dress and try to act exactly like them.
All cultures and languages are bastardized. Cultures learn from each other and are in a constant state of flux due to influences from associating with one another. To me, "theft" occurs when people in a culture appropriate aspects of another culture and then claims that they "invented" it, i.e. the Ten Commandments contain nothing new or original. While that is a religious example, it is also cultural.
Purists become upset when long held traditions are changed by other cultures, but that is the way of life. Personally, I think it is ridiculous when I see people adopting elements from another culture and identifying with said culture, or religion, when they have no clue. One example is dreamcatchers--how many people have those hanging in their houses or from their rearview mirror with no true concept of what they represent?
There is such a thing as cultural theft. If you look at the Native American experience during the Boarding School era (late 1880's to World War I), many Native American youth were forcibly removed from their homes, their families, their villages and their cultural. They were shipped many miles away (see Carlisle Indain School) and many never made it back to their homes and peoples. They were punished severely if they spoke their own language or attempted to practice any aspects of their culture. Their culture was effectively stolen.. The numbers were not inconsequential.
On top of that mainstream culture stole their culture in other capacities. White wannabes form Indian dance groups and pretend to dance things like the eagle dance, or the snake dance, not realizing these have religious and spiritual meanings. The Boy Scouts stole their ceremonies (see Order of the Arrow) and effectively trivialized them. Hollywood stole their warrior persona and again trivialized it. Finally, whites stole their religious art and combined spiritual elements that were never supposed to be combined or used the way they have been. The white culture also unfairly monopolized the Native Art market and dictated for many years what items were acceptable and which were not.
On conclusion, cultural theft is definite possible, and it often not thst hsve equal access to their own culture., but that culture has greater significance than simply a market share. It involves a deeper understanding of shared experiences and a common understanding of trials and tribulations survived and cultural perseverance. This includes other cultures besides NA. They have the right to decide what is acceptable for themselves and their culture.
When I first read your post, before reading any of the other detailed replies, I was thinking along the lines of totally taking a people's culture from them. 1. My first thought was the Native Americans of course. There is nothing left of their culture except for a few scattered tribal descendants in artificial reservation that are mere shadows of the " Indian Nation" also a name that took away their identity. I've visited some of the reservations, dotted with Christian churches. Christian's forced the bible on them. Although wearing traditional garb and putting on tribal performances they are mostly Christian now. Yes. Their culture was stolen. 2. For centuries and still in this day and age Christian groups travel to remote tribal areas all over the world where small tribes have forever existed with no contact from the outside world. The Christian groups arrive, tell them they are primitive and convert them to christianity. In the cases where the Christian groups are persistent these people doubt their own culture and beliefs and are converted. Yes. Their culture is stolen from them 3. A great portion of India had been converted to Christianity. Full blooded (meaning generation of Indians by birth) Indian Hindus and Indian Muslims were converted to Christianity) I have many Indian friends and yes their culture was stolen from them. 4. The Crusades without going into the details, converted where they conquered. Accept Christ or die. Yes. That would be stealing someone's culture. So those were the type of events I though were true thefts.
I tend to agree with you on this one, Matias. People forget that, unlike one's physical characteristics, culture is a choice. If you or I appreciate a particular type of music or food, learn how to reproduce it accurately, and even profit from this knowledge, we are not appropriating anything, but are rather expanding its audience. A few years back when this topic was first making a splash, I found this YouTuber's video on the subject most enjoyable. Peace.
I'm always shocked when the dominant race/culture/sex wants to belittle a complaint of a minority group that they even admit to not understanding. As a man, I think women should be allowed to decide on their own their health care rights. The primary reason for this is that I'm not a woman. As a white person, I think that complaints coming from a large portion of a minority race shouldn't get dismissed simply because I have a hard time understanding them.
I worry when I hear such criticisms because I can't help but think that such people aren't fully thinking their argument through to its full conclusion.
In some cases, it can be said that outside influences could be seen as a sort of bastardization of something sacred. Some examples I've heard involve white people singing the blues, Iggy Azalea, traditional native headdress used outside of Native American culture. Though I hesitate to grant anyone the RIGHTS to their given customs, in some cases . . . you have to shake your head. There is being influenced by, and then there is copying a formula and running with it. I won't say that it is WRONG, but I will generally say that it is lazy.
Most opinions on the matter seem to be based around simple salacious pop culture type stuff like that. What I am more concerned about is the vast amount of knowledge that humanity has amassed throughout our existence. Though the world has not always been as harmonious and interconnected as it is now, imagine if the divides had stayed in place. How much longer progress would have taken with every sect coming at every issue independently. Would we reach the jet age (let alone the internet age)?
I Cant fault this but I want respond so for once I am going brake my cardinal rule and go off topic.
It is not wrong to take, borrow or bastardise, ie make your own, other cultural ideas as long as there is awarenss that you are doing so. Otherwise there are practical implications that could take hold in a detrimental way.
The example that comes to mind is Buddhism and the idea of compassion. Compassion is not a hindu word. It is used as a rough translation for the hindu karuna. But this is where it gets interesting. The word is meaningless even to those who speak the language unless they have expereinced it through transcendence. I didnt understand until I started meditation and even as I right this I still can't resonate with it in the same way.
Language is based on culture. As is beliefs, ideas, etc. I would consider it prudent to take this into consideration when adopting something that is unfamiliar in your own.
I can give you a real example of cultural theft; tha tis not simply the spread of culture from one group to another.
It is the deindianization that was inflected on the First nations in Canada and the US, forced christianization, residental school, Canada's Indian Act and reservations as example. This not only allowed colonization but it also allowed us to strip away their many cultures and recreate them as we imagined them to be.
I don't believe there is such a thing as "cultural theft" or "cultural appropriation". Culture as defined by Wikipedia is "...the social behavior and norms found in human societies. " Societies are not static. Ideas and beliefs change, on a wide range of items. Sometimes someone else builds a better mouse trap, and then people recognize it's a better way, so they adopt it.
Now that is not to say that people don't adopt styles, attitudes, language, etc., and do not respect the original value or importance of the thing, or give credit to the original group. Very seldom have I seen it done with "the intent to deprive the lawful owner of it" (theft definition at wikipedia).
I can understand Native Americans, Blacks, Polynesian, etc. being upset at their culture being misrepresented by blatant greedy capitalist companies to make a buck, but that is a separate issue. I think the problem comes when it is not done out of respect, but only for personal gains or outright disrespect. As far as disrespect, that is another tough problem since it's near impossible to gauge someone's intent.
Matias I have made this assertion for some time. It is a completely ludicrous notion. For a start there is no such thing as a pure nation in terms of race. We all are mongrels, in as far as we have been conquered and races have interbred. Nation states have been merged, boundaries redrawn. As you pointed out cultural transfer has happened due to our being mobile, from the first time navigators crossed oceans and even before that across land masses. The human animal is a mobile being and just as in nature there is cross pollination, with us there has been a transference of cultural practices. There can’t be cultural theft...theft is a crime. Who is going to be charged and by whom? The whole idea is nonsensical and in my opinion just another example of grievance culture which is becoming ever more prevalent.
I was reading recently about black women complaining that white women were stealing their hairstyles and had no right to because they didn't belong to the culture. If this was brought to its extreme conclusion, no black actors could play Hamlet and black people in general couldn't wear business suits.
Okay. I can discuss for Hours the development and evolution of Latin Music crossing the Caribbean Sea into Continental North America and also following the path north from South America but... it is what it is when it is. Remember... when you travel... you bring "stuff" from home. I remember one night in Bahamas or Bermuda... a down to earth Rumba by the Locals and I a Navy Guy from Puerto Rico in a Liberty Port took my turn and sit down with them at the Congas. African Heritage will never die in the Americas! Stolen, Evolved, Slaved, Pillaged, Still lives! And that night we all paid Homage and Respect despite the different cultures involved. In a different note... shouldn't Germans be requesting to get the swastika back from the Neo Nazis?
The more common term of 'cultural misappropriation' is just nonsense to me. Just a way for people to get deliberately triggered and rant at others. White people having deadlocks or adopting african dress etc. I think it ridiculous when non--scottish people wear the kilt but that's it, ridiculous. I can't imagine too many hairy scotsmen bleating about 'cultural misappropriation'!
Cultural theft. Maybe like the great flood before the biblical great flood and the big boat before the Ark. Maybe like "The World's 16 Crucified Saviors" by Kersey Graves. The book is from 1875 but I have a copy. A subtitle is Christianity Before Christ.
Yes, there is such a thing as cultural theft.
I like that we acknowledge that those people did those things themselves - copying seems ot be part of our nature - I have a tattooo very far removed form a Maori one so it isnt the same and i am not copying, I think these thinggs were invented befor copyright laws et so they just are a part of what we can all enjoy about our differences.