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On Cultural Appropriation

I am happy to note that my article “On Cultural Appropriation” has now been published in the Journal of Folklore Research. Right now, the article can be found in Project Muse (see, JSTOR (see and (more esoterically) in EBSCOhost. In about a year, the paper will be freely accessible in the Indiana University open access (OA) repository in accord with IU OA policies.

Here is an abstract for the paper:

This article starts from the premise that cultural appropriation is a key concern for folklorists and ethnologists, as well as for many of the communities with which they engage and partner, but that it is also one that has received relatively little attention of a general conceptual sort. This is true despite the ubiquity of cultural appropriation discussions in popular media, public culture, and informal scholarly conversation. Drawing on the work of these fields, an ideal-type conceptualization of cultural appropriation is offered, one that situates it as one among a range of modes of cultural change. For cultural appropriation, the key neighboring modes are diffusion, acculturation, and assimilation. The article also briefly addresses cultural appropriation as it is often situated vis-à-vis conceptions of, and processes related to, cultural property and cultural heritage. This heuristic emphasizes the metacultural discourse that marks instances of cultural appropriation as well as the inequality often characterizing the parties to such episodes.

The paper is rather long as such things go. A bibliographic note got cut out of it before publication and I have posted that separately in the IU Open Access Repository. It (“Cultural Appropriation: A Review of the Literature in US Folklore Studies”) can be accessed directly here:

Warm thanks to everyone who helped in the development of this paper, from the then-students, now-colleagues, who took Contesting Culture as Property with me in 2004 all the way up to the JFR editorial team, especially those people around Turtle Island and around the world who have shared their stories, experiences, insights, and battles with me.

A figure from the article representing some modes of cultural change, including cultural appropriation.
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