Synopses & Reviews
Cultural appropriation is a pervasive feature of the contemporary world. The Parthenon Marbles remain in London. Works of art from indigenous cultures are held by many metropolitan museums. White musicians from Bix Beiderbeck to Eric Clapton have appropriated musical styles from African-American culture. From North America to Australasia, artists have appropriated motifs and stories from aboriginal cultures. Novelists and filmmakers from one culture have taken as their subject matter the lives and practices of members of other cultures.
The practice of cultural appropriation has given rise to important ethical and aesthetic questions: Can cultural appropriation result in the production of aesthetically successful works of art? Is cultural appropriation in the arts morally objectionable? These questions have been widely debated by anthropologists, archaeologists, lawyers, art historians, advocates of the rights of indigenous peoples, literary critics, museum curators and others. At root, however, these questions are philosophical questions. Now, for the first time, a philosopher undertakes a systematic investigation of the moral and aesthetic issues to which cultural appropriation gives rise.
“Cultural Appropriation and the Arts, by James O. Young, provides an analytical, comprehensive overview of ethical and aesthetic issues concerning cultural appropriation.” (Journal of Cult Economy
, 25 March 2011)
Now, for the first time, a philosopher undertakes a systematic investigation of the moral and aesthetic issues to which cultural appropriation gives rise.
- Cultural appropriation is a pervasive feature of the contemporary world (the Parthenon Marbles remain in London; white musicians from Bix Beiderbeck to Eric Clapton have appropriated musical styles from African-American culture)
- Young offers the first systematic philosophical investigation of the moral and aesthetic issues to which cultural appropriation gives rise
- Tackles head on the thorny issues arising from the clash and integration of cultures and their artifacts
- Questions considered include: “Can cultural appropriation result in the production of aesthetically successful works of art?” and “Is cultural appropriation in the arts morally objectionable?”
- Part of the highly regarded New Directions in Aesthetics series
About the Author
James O. Young is Professor and Head of the Department of Philosophy, University of Victoria. He has published extensively on philosophy of language and philosophy of art. His previous books include Global Anti-realism (1995) and Art and Knowledge (2001), and he is editor (with Conrad Brunk) of The Ethics of Cultural Appropriation (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009).
Table of Contents
Chapter One: What is Cultural Appropriation?
Art, Culture, and Appropriation.
Types of Cultural Appropriation.
What is a Culture?
Objections to Cultural Appropriation.
In Praise of Cultural Appropriation.
Chapter Two: The Aesthetics of Cultural Appropriation:
The Aesthetic Handicap Thesis.
The Cultural Experience Argument.
Aesthetic Properties and Cultural Context.
Authenticity and Appropriation.
Cultural Experience and Subject Appropriation.
Appropriation and the Authentic Expression of a Culture.
Chapter Three: Cultural Appropriation as Theft:
Harm by Theft.
Possible Owners of Artworks.
Cultures and Inheritance.
Lost and Abandoned Property.
Cultural Property and Traditional Law.
Collective Knowledge and Collective Property.
Ownership of Land and Ownership of Art.
Property and Value to a Culture.
Cultures and Intellectual Property.
Some Conclusions about Ownership and Appropriation.
The Rescue Argument.
Chapter Four: Cultural Appropriation as Assault:
Other Forms of Harm.
Cultural Appropriation and Harmful Misrepresentation.
Harm and Accurate Representation.
Cultural Appropriation and Economic Opportunity.
Cultural Appropriation and Assimilation.
Art, Insignia, and Cultural Identity.
Cultural Appropriation and Privacy.
Chapter Five: Profound Offence and Cultural Appropriation:
Harm, Offence, and Profound Offence.
Examples of Offensive Cultural Appropriation.
The Problem and the Key to its Solution.
Social Value and Offensive Art.
Freedom of Expression.
The Sacred and the Offensive.
Time and Place Restrictions.
Toleration of Offensive Art.
Reasonable and Unreasonable Offence.
Conclusion: Responding to Cultural Appropriation.
Supporting Minority Artists.
Bibliography of Works Cited and Consulted.