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Coleman, Elizabeth Burns. Aboriginal Painting: Identity and Authenticity
2001, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 59(4): 385–402.
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Added by: Erich Hatala Matthes
Summary: Coleman argues for an ontological understanding of Australian Aboriginal artworks (namely, that they function as insignia that require authoritative endorsement) that can resolve disputes about the authenticity of controversial cases of Aboriginal art. More broadly, her article illuminates the ways in which viewing art as part of a cultural heritage can affect how we understand its authenticity.

Comment: This is a longer text that intersects with a number of other topics, including appropriation, art ontology, and the art-status of non-Western artworks. It could be used in the context of course units exploring any of those themes, or to raise them in the context of a unit on authenticity.

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Coombe, Rosemary J.. The Properties of Culture and the Politics of Possessing Identity: Native Claims in the Cultural Appropriation Controversy.
1993, Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence 6(2): 249-285.
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Abstract: The West has created categories of property, including intellectual property, which divides peoples and things according to the same colonizing discourses of possessive individualism that historically disentitled and disenfranchised Native peoples in North America. These categories are often presented as one or both of neutral and natural, and often racialized. The commodification and removal of land from people’s social relations which inform Western valuations of cultural value and human beings living in communities represents only one particular, partial way of categorizing the world. Legal and cultural manifestations of authorship, culture, and property are contingent upon Enlightenment and Romantic notions built upon a colonial foundation. I will argue that the law rips apart what First Nations peoples view as integrally and relationally joined, but traditional Western understandings of culture, identity, and property are provoked, challenged, and undermined by the concept of Aboriginal Title in a fashion that is both necessary and long overdue.

Comment: In this wide-ranging essay, Coombe situates debates about cultural appropriation in the context of colonial power dynamics. She discusses both appropriation of styles and stories as well as alienation of material cultural property. In particular, she criticizes the appeal to Western conceptions of property in these debates, and questions whether Native identity and autonomy can be appropriately protected by subsuming Native intangible cultural property claims under Western frameworks for intellectual property. This is a long and challenging essay, best used for more advanced courses. Alternative texts that capture some of the ideas here include Loretta Todd's "Notes on Appropriation" (on which Coombe draws), or, for a text that situates some of these ideas in the literature on epistemic injustice, see Erich Hatala Matthes, "Cultural Appropriation without Cultural Essentialism?".

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Cooper, Leonie. Joe Corré, Son of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, On Why He’s Burning His £5 Million Punk Collection
2016, NME, 18th March 2016
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Abstract: This week [18th March 2016], Joe Corré, son of punk provocateurs Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood proved that rebellion runs in the family. In response to the ongoing Punk London year of events, gigs, films, talks, exhibits, celebrating 40 years of punk – which Joe claims has been endorsed by the Queen – has announced his plans to burn his £5 million collection of punk memorabilia this November 26, on the 40th anniversary of the release of the Sex Pistols’ ‘Anarchy In The UK’. NME visited Joe at his London HQ to find out more.

Comment: This news item is an interview with Joe Corré, son of British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, former manager of the Sex Pistols. In response to the 2016 events celebrating '40 years of Punk' in London, Corré announced he would burn his collection of punk artefacts, estimated to be worth £5 million (he did end up burning it on a barge on the Thames). In this interview, Corré discusses how the punk aesthetic has been appropriated by the very people and institutions that the punk movement was against - the establishment. For Corré, his collection is only worth £5 million because of the mainstream appropriation that punk has undergone - for him these items are worthless, they barely even have sentimental value. But equally, Corré, a very wealthy man himself (he co-founded the lingerie brand Agent Provocateur and sold it to private equity for £60 million), has come under fire for his decision to burn the items rather than give them to charity. As such, this piece is an interesting case study that illustrates the mechanics of class appropriation of fashion as discussed by Crane. But it can also be discussed in reference to the People's History Museum virtual exhibition from week 6, as perhaps Corré's judgement that these items are not worthy of preservation and display is itself clouded by class privilege.

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Keeshig-Tobias, Lenore. The Magic of Others
1990, In Language in Her Eye: Views on Writing and Gender by Canadian Women Writing in English, edited by Libby Scheier, Sarah Sheard and Eleanor Wachtel: Coach House Press
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Summary: In this short selection, Keeshig-Tobias (Ojibway) raises questions about representation and authenticity in fiction about Native people written by non-Native authors. With reference to certain Native belief systems, she contextualizes why the telling of a story could be viewed as theft in a way that might seem counter-intuitive to a liberal Western audience.

Comment: This is a useful piece to pair with any of the more theoretical writings on cultural appropriation. It articulates some Native perspectives on cultural appropriation that may be less familiar to students, as well as pointing out problems with some of the assumptions on which defenses of cultural appropriation sometimes depend.

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Nguyen, C. Thi, Strohl, Matthew. Cultural Appropriation and the Intimacy of Groups
2019, Philosophical Studies, 176: 981–1002
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Abstract: What could ground normative restrictions concerning cultural appropriation which are not grounded by independent considerations such as property rights or harm? We propose that such restrictions can be grounded by considerations of intimacy. Consider the familiar phenomenon of interpersonal intimacy. Certain aspects of personal life and interpersonal relationships are afforded various protections in virtue of being intimate. We argue that an analogous phenomenon exists at the level of large groups. In many cases, members of a group engage in shared practices that contribute to a sense of common identity, such as wearing certain hair or clothing styles or performing a certain style of music. Participation in such practices can generate relations of group intimacy, which can ground certain prerogatives in much the same way that interpersonal intimacy can. One such prerogative is making what we call an appropriation claim. An appropriation claim is a request from a group member that non-members refrain from appropriating a given element of the group’s culture. Ignoring appropriation claims can constitute a breach of intimacy. But, we argue, just as for the prerogatives of interpersonal intimacy, in many cases there is no prior fact of the matter about whether the appropriation of a given cultural practice constitutes a breach of intimacy. It depends on what the group decides together.

Comment: This article presents a thorough discussion of the competing interests surrounding cultural appropriation and one promising explanation of why it amounts to a harm or wrong based on the notion of intimacy - in particular, breaches of group intimacy. Although this explanation is just one of many that might be given, the hope is that readers will find tools for thinking about the previous items from this week's selections and for developing their own views on cultural appropriation.

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Nicholas, George P., Alison Wylie. ‘Do Not Do Unto Others…’ Cultural Misrecognition and the Harms of Appropriation in an Open-Source World
2012, In Geoffrey Scarre & Robin Coningham (eds.), Appropriating the Past: Philosophical Perspectives on the Practice of Archaeology. Cambridge University Press. pp. 195-221.
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Abstract: In this chapter we explore two important questions that we believe should be central to any discussion of the ethics and politics of cultural heritage: What are the harms associated with appropriation and commodification, specifically where the heritage of Indigenous peoples is concerned? And how can these harms best be avoided? Archaeological concerns animate this discussion; we are ultimately concerned with fostering postcolonial archaeological practices. But we situate these questions in a broader context, addressing them as they arise in connection with the appropriation of Indigenous cultural heritage, both past and present.

Comment: The text offers a wide-ranging discussion of cultural appropriation, and an interresting focus on commodification, display, and community engagement. A collaboration between a philosopher (Wylie) and an archaeologist (Nicholas), it's a great fit for instructors who are looking for a case-driven text that includes theoretical context. It includes four specific case studies that range over multiple cultural contexts.

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Todd, Loretta. Notes on Appropriation
1990, Parallelogramme 16(1): 24-33.
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Summary: Todd (Métis) situates contemporary acts of cultural appropriation in the colonial appropriation of indigenous land. She offers a normative definition of cultural appropriation according to which it is understood as the opposite of cultural autonomy. In the course of her discussion, she responds to a number of defenses of cultural appropriation that, she argues, fail to recognize the asymmetries of power in which appropriation from indigenous communities is embedded.

Comment: This is an excellent text to use in order to present students with a conception of the wrong of cultural appropriation that is firmly rooted in the context of colonial power dynamics. It is short, and can be usefully compared and contrasted with the arguments presented by James O. Young in "Profound Offense and Cultural Appropriation.".

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Walsh, Andrea N., Dominic McIver Lopes. Objects of Appropriation
2012, In Young, James O., and Conrad G. Brunk, eds. The Ethics of Cultural Appropriation: Blackwell Publishing.
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Summary: Walsh and Lopes argue that some appropriation can be beneficial and productive: in particular, the appropriation of elements of dominant culture by members of culturally marginalized groups. They explore this idea through discussion of such appropriative artwork by a number of contemporary First Nations artists, which they argue challenges "the assumed alignment of appropriator with oppressor and appropriatee with victim"(227).

Comment: This text serves as a useful counterpoint to the general framework employed in much of the other cultural appropriation literature. It is also a useful selection for course units focusing on art practice.

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