Author: Robert Seddon

Cultural Appropriation Sold Out When It Went Mainstream

It’s not the bloodbaths I mind so much as the tedium. Some of us survived the sub/dub wars; we should feel proud to see new generations hammering their keyboards with a violent passion, endlessly disputing the details of how to appreciate foreign culture. Unfortunately this turned out to be simultaneously the age in which everyone is expected to acknowledge the politics of cultural appropriation, and the age of trending topics and viral clicktivism. Public criticism of cultural appropriation, even in its more sober and reflective manifestations, duly narrows to a couple of apparent trends. One is a prominent concern with offensiveness, though the fact that so many things are now discovered to be offensive tends to dull its effect. Some appeals to offence do have a further dimension: objections to profane imitation of what a people holds to be sacred. The catch is that appeals to sanctity don’t fit neatly into a wider category of cultural appropriation: they won’t credibly work for sushi or sombreros, so if cultural appropriation per se is morally suspect then …