Jump to content
Raggydoll

Cultural Appropriation And Resources On How To Avoid It

Recommended Posts

Raggydoll

I know that I am not the only one who care about this topic. It is important for my spiritual path to learn more and to do better. My goal with this thread is to provide a place for us to discuss this topic in a constructive way and to focus on spreading important information rather than slandering people for not being ethical enough. So please, share any information that you have regarding any type of cultural appropriation. 

 

Here are some articles and resources that I have found to be very informational:

 

On the exploitation of eastern spirituality:

https://everydayfeminism.com/2016/07/culturally-appropriating-buddhism/

https://thinkinginmybrownskin.wordpress.com/2015/06/27/the-decapitation-of-the-buddha/

 

 

Those links tell you why it is not OK to have Buddha heads decorating your apartment or to have mala beads as a trendy accessory. 

 

Some other resources:

 

 

 

This one discusses more than cultural appropriation but that topic is what she starts off with. 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Marigold

From one of the articles : "Furthermore, one would never consider decapitating Jesus for aesthetics, nor would it be considered a sign of respect if it was done- could you imagine a Jesus head tucked into a corner of a garden?"

 

Artists have been doing this for a long time. Remember the Piss Christ ? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piss_Christ. It was quite a remarkable work of art. 

 

Now one could argue that art is different than new age tosh and casual usage of other people's beliefs and traditions. And anyway, if it's "tosh" then why would one even be bothered about it. I'm not sure it's so different though. It's using people's deep held religious beliefs to make an artistic statement. (Although in this example, the guy was a Catholic - I can't imagine what would have happened if it had been someone of another faith - riots most likely.)

 

In solidarity with a friend who is always being insulted in the bus or in the streets due to the fact that she wears an Islamic veil, I told her that I'd be willing to put on a veil with her in solidarity and that I'd give the insulter what they deserve and even more. But she told me I can't be a "fake" Muslim. It wasn't so much cultural appropriation that bothered her, but the fact that I would be pretending to be someone that I'm not. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
devin
39 minutes ago, Marigold said:

From one of the articles : "Furthermore, one would never consider decapitating Jesus for aesthetics, nor would it be considered a sign of respect if it was done- could you imagine a Jesus head tucked into a corner of a garden?"

Strangely, there's a garden accessory place near me that has cement Jesus and Mary statues. Mary is dubbed 'tranquility'. Strangest off all, they're actually quite good statues!

Edited by devin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Eagle87

Interesting videos. I see a lot of this type of appropriation practically everywhere with little regard to actual uses or meanings. This is also an issue for native spirituality which is very unfortunate. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Raggydoll

 

1 hour ago, Marigold said:

From one of the articles : "Furthermore, one would never consider decapitating Jesus for aesthetics, nor would it be considered a sign of respect if it was done- could you imagine a Jesus head tucked into a corner of a garden?"

 

Artists have been doing this for a long time. Remember the Piss Christ ? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piss_Christ. It was quite a remarkable work of art. 

 

Now one could argue that art is different than new age tosh and casual usage of other people's beliefs and traditions. And anyway, if it's "tosh" then why would one even be bothered about it. I'm not sure it's so different though. It's using people's deep held religious beliefs to make an artistic statement. (Although in this example, the guy was a Catholic - I can't imagine what would have happened if it had been someone of another faith - riots most likely.)

 

In solidarity with a friend who is always being insulted in the bus or in the streets due to the fact that she wears an Islamic veil, I told her that I'd be willing to put on a veil with her in solidarity and that I'd give the insulter what they deserve and even more. But she told me I can't be a "fake" Muslim. It wasn't so much cultural appropriation that bothered her, but the fact that I would be pretending to be someone that I'm not. 

 

 

I sort of think that it misses the point to say that the same has been done to statues of Jesus in the name of art. This person was trying to give an example and I think most of us got what she meant. If you read the article of how Buddha statues historically have been decapitated by colonizers as a way to destroy peoples connection to their Buddhist faith, then that gives it a very special and highly problematic context. Its not a question of art, its a question of spiritual trauma. But my intent with this thread was not to debate details in the resources but to actually share information for those that are interested in learning more about cultural appropriation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Raggydoll
49 minutes ago, Eagle87 said:

Interesting videos. I see a lot of this type of appropriation practically everywhere with little regard to actual uses or meanings. This is also an issue for native spirituality which is very unfortunate. 

Thank you, and I absolutely agree. I was hoping that perhaps @Mi-Shell would chime in regarding native spirituality and the appropriation thereof. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
iMoodyCrab

The number of times me & my sister have had this conversation! Symbols & shlokas in sanskrit is considered "happening" & "kewl" (I still dont get the difference between cool & kewl). Most times they don't even understand what those symbols & words mean to us. 

 

Not to mention the twisted versions of Yoga out there (there's a wine yoga... just use the words wine workout, why drag Yog into it?) Oh! And the misconception that Yoga is just lost of flexible posture holding for hot women in questionable clothes. It's a form of discipline, and you don't even have to be flexible at all! 

 

It is just frustrating! There's just so much vent worthy on this topic, but I'll shut up now. I can get very controversial sometimes. 

 

But, sincerely and genuinely with all my heart, thank you for starting this thread. It's like a ray of hope that atleast there are some out there who don't just think Eastern religions are just "so much fun, and pretty".

I know many people even outside this forum who genuinely appreciate your efforts. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Raggydoll
7 minutes ago, iMoodyCrab said:

The number of times me & my sister have had this conversation! Symbols & shlokas in sanskrit is considered "happening" & "kewl" (I still dont get the difference between cool & kewl). Most times they don't even understand what those symbols & words mean to us. 

 

Not to mention the twisted versions of Yoga out there (there's a wine yoga... just use the words wine workout, why drag Yog into it?) Oh! And the misconception that Yoga is just lost of flexible posture holding for hot women in questionable clothes. It's a form of discipline, and you don't even have to be flexible at all! 

 

It is just frustrating! There's just so much vent worthy on this topic, but I'll shut up now. I can get very controversial sometimes. 

 

But, sincerely and genuinely with all my heart, thank you for starting this thread. It's like a ray of hope that atleast there are some out there who don't just think Eastern religions are just "so much fun, and pretty".

I know many people even outside this forum who genuinely appreciate your efforts. 

Thank you! I think it was when I started reading the Yoga Sutras and I saw just what little role the asanas plays in the practice of yoga that it dawned on me. I believe that the asanas make up about 2 percent of yoga but here in the western society those two have become synonymous and the goal of the practice is completely different than what Patanjali described. So it is very sad. I once heard a Hindu professor say that we westeners should consider this: If we feel great from doing asanas and experience wonderful benefits from that practice, then how much more benefits can we not reap if we start to explore the other 98 percent of those teachings? I loved that he put it that way. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Marigold

One could then argue that Arthur Waite culturally appropriated the Tarot of Marseilles. This doesn't seem to bother anyone (or very few). Maybe because it has now become a tradition of its own.

 

So one could then further argue that by taking bits and pieces from other cultures, one can create something new with them. I have a firm conviction that sharing is more important than retaining and keeping something for oneself. As if it were some kind of private property. If I found a sari comfortable and beautiful to wear... why couldn't I wear it to go and do my shopping ? Do I have to have some kind of "Indian blood" whatever that means to appreciate in my own manner the cultural heritage of others ? If I wanted to paint a red dot on my head (I don't) and give it my own individual meaning, is this wrong ? I wouldn't be pretending to be a Hindu. Anyone who would think this should have their head read. 

 

No-one got upset when white middle class kids started dressing up as rastafarians with dreadlocks in their hair. They may have laughed sometimes, but no-one got upset. I never heard a rastafarian ranting about this. I would think they would be happy that people are taking an interest in their beliefs. Even if it is coloured by their own backgrounds - how could it be otherwise ?

 

All the wellness and mindfulness centres in the West would have to close their meditation classes also. Most Western meditation techniques but more importantly the aim and purpose have little to do with meditation which came from the East. 

 

 

Edited by Marigold

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Raggydoll

@Marigold Like I said, Im not going to argue whether this is a valid topic or not. The intent is to share resources to those who are interested. A lot of us feel strongly about this and this is a place for us to discuss it. I ask that we please leave it at that and honor the original intent of this thread. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
iMoodyCrab

Hey @Marigold , being an Indian I can 100% assure you we have absolutely no objection to anyone donning a sari, or putting on a bindi (that's the red dot). That's just clothes and accessories from our side of the world. My objections are more related to belittling something we consider a form of divination to be ridiculed the way it has been. HUGE difference I assure you. 

 

The beauty of Hinduism has always been that there's no conversion ceremony, no swearing in your allegiance, nothing actually to it. It's literally a way of life. There are multiple guidance books you can choose from and just one fine day declare "I'm Hindu". All we ask for to then be true to that belief. 

 

Like, if you believe in idol worship, you are Hindu, you don't, still a Hindu! I don't believe in temples, doesn't make me less of a Hindu, my mom does, doesn't make her more either! My brother is a hardcore carnivore, still a Hindu. I'm a vegetarian by choice, doesn't make me better. We don't let choices be an issue. But we do know our scripts, what they mean, what they stand for. There's a lot I don't know as opposed to how much I've learned. 

 

Clothes & accessories, I'll even gift you, that part of our culture is actually fun & pretty. But don't mess with our beliefs, that's pushing it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Marigold

Oh... I thought I was on topic  this time on the straight and narrow way. I thought we were talking about cultural appropriation and all its facets. There's something escaping me. I'll just watch then for now and figure out what I didn't understand about the topic and its aim. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Marigold
9 minutes ago, iMoodyCrab said:

 My objections are more related to belittling something we consider a form of divination to be ridiculed the way it has been. HUGE difference I assure you. 

 

 

Aaah. I see. Not a big hullabaloo then about Kim Kardashian having dared use the word "kimono" for her new range of pyjamas.

 

More like not making images of the Prophet Mohamed (Peace be upon him) because this offends deeply the people of Muslim faith. 

 

I understand better now the goal of this thread. 

 

There have been tons of newspaper reports recently about people getting upset about people wearing clothes and jewellery and suchlike from different cultures. So cultural appropriation is spreading out to many areas - even clothing. So I thought this thread was about all sorts of cultural appropriations. I'll stick closely then to spiritual and religious beliefs then if this is the focus of this thread. 

 

(Tarot of Marseilles is also of great spiritual import... Waite corrupted it but by doing so he created a new tradition that lots of people love and swear by and live by. )

Edited by Marigold

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Raggydoll
1 minute ago, Marigold said:

Aaah. I see. Not a big hullabaloo then about Kim Kardashian having dared use the word "kimono" for her new range of pyjamas.

 

More like not making images of the Prophet Mohamed (Peace be upon him) because this offends deeply the people of Muslim faith. 

 

I understand better now the goal of this thread. 

 

There have been tons of newspaper reports recently about people getting upset about people wearing clothes and jewellery and suchlike from different cultures. So cultural appropriation is spreading out to many areas - even clothing. So I thought this thread was about all sorts of cultural appropriations. I'll stick closely then to spiritual and religious beliefs then if this is the focus of this thread. 

 

(Tarot of Marseilles is also of great spiritual import...)

I put it in the spiritual forum to highlight that aspect of it, yes. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ashwsh
13 minutes ago, Marigold said:

Aaah. I see. Not a big hullabaloo then about Kim Kardashian having dared use the word "kimono" for her new range of pyjamas.

 

More like not making images of the Prophet Mohamed (Peace be upon him) because this offends deeply the people of Muslim faith. 

 

I understand better now the goal of this thread. 

 

There have been tons of newspaper reports recently about people getting upset about people wearing clothes and jewellery and suchlike from different cultures. So cultural appropriation is spreading out to many areas - even clothing. So I thought this thread was about all sorts of cultural appropriations. I'll stick closely then to spiritual and religious beliefs then if this is the focus of this thread. 

 

(Tarot of Marseilles is also of great spiritual import... Waite corrupted it but by doing so he created a new tradition that lots of people love and swear by and live by. )

Yes, being an Indian myself, how one dresses is not an a correct appropriation of the culture in my opinion. However I have seen huge number of Ganesha statues being exported to European Countries, NewZealand and Australia for decorative purpose, or statues of Natraj (Dancing Shiva), with a belief that putting them up in the house will get prosperity or success. Am usually stunned when I see that happening! I actually find it very disrespectful when I see people do that.

 

Adding- There is much more to Ganesha, than just a harbinger of Prosperity, his entire narrative is missed and for most he just a deity with an elephant head.

Edited by ashwsh

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
AJ-ish/Sharyn

I'm just a clueless white girl in America, where we all seem clueless. 

I chose the salmon and owl as my totems. Until I read up what what totems really were. Blush. 

 

A friend made me a mala, I looped it on my bedside nightstand. It has given me great comfort there for years. See, clueless. 

 

I could go on for hours probably, the fairy door I put up on a tree in the forest even though I think angels and fairies are all bollox. 

 

What I am though, is a human in process, and learn from what others have tried to teach me. 

What I've observed in life that begins to make me uncomfortable. I get it wrong again and again, 

but I'm working on it. 

I'm reading a loved author who writes mysteries set in the America's four corners and the police have tribal names. I've been feeling guilty doing that, for entertainment and I probably won't read any more. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Marigold
9 minutes ago, AJ-ish/Sharyn said:

A friend made me a mala, I looped it on my bedside nightstand. It has given me great comfort there for years. See, clueless. 

 

 

If it comforted you then what's the problem ? I'm not Catholic nor Christian, but when I go visit a cathedral I always light a candle for the Catholic Virgin Mary. I don't believe in the Catholic Virgin Mary... but I like lighting a candle to her anyway. It makes me feel warm inside. She was a mother like me you see. 

 

And if I'm still off topic, then raggydoll tell me once more. And I'll bow out. Because then it would really mean that I don't get AT ALL what this thread is about. My aim is certainly not to mess around nor to be controversial. I'm hugely interested in this topic of cultural appropriation which is a word I'd hardly ever heard of some time ago, and now hardly a day goes where I don't see it popping up somewhere. 

Edited by Marigold

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
iMoodyCrab
34 minutes ago, Marigold said:

Kim Kardashian having dared use the word "kimono" for her new range of pyjamas.

She did that??? There's something fundamentally wrong with her 🤦‍♀️

 

See, that my dear friend was not appropriate. It comes across as rather insulting, but that could just be me. 

 

18 minutes ago, Marigold said:

hugely interested in this topic of cultural appropriation which is a word I'd hardly ever heard of some time ago, and now hardly a day goes where I don't see it popping up somewhere

OK, I can help a little with this. Lets say there's a halloween party, don't go dressed as an Indian or Mexican or Native American. That's not cool. We dress our little ones as cartoon characters (preferably the non controversial or fantasy ones). 

 

An example, I'm an Indian Hindu living in an Islamic country. So i abide by their cultural norms by dressing more conservatively since I work with the government. I wouldn't even wear a sari to work during my festival due to the amount of skin show. But, having said that, I wouldn't wear an Abaya either. Its very personal to Islam, and me wearing one would come across as disrespectful. So i opt for leggings with a loose fitted dress that's atleast to my knees, has no deep neck cuts or flashy backs, not even sleeveless. Just respecting their culture whilst maintaining my fashion too. 

 

When I was in a private company, I asked for permission if it would be ok if I wore sari just one day (Diwali). They dint have any objection and some of my very white (Brit) colleagues wanted to wear one too. Needless to say it was a fashion parade and the most unproductive day of the year!

 

Hope that helps in some way. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
iMoodyCrab
38 minutes ago, AJ-ish/Sharyn said:

A friend made me a mala, I looped it on my bedside nightstand. It has given me great comfort there for years. See, clueless

Oh I'm so happy to read that 🙃

They were traditionally made of specific stones meant to keep you calm. We made the stones into Malas for contact with skin. Its said to help (that's what my Maa use to say). 

 

I still keep my granny's mala by my bedside. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
iMoodyCrab
53 minutes ago, Marigold said:

Tarot of Marseilles is also of great spiritual import... Waite corrupted it but by doing so he created a new tradition that lots of people love and swear by and live by.

I learnt something new today. Thank you 😘 

Will read more about that too now. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Raggydoll
1 hour ago, AJ-ish/Sharyn said:

I'm just a clueless white girl in America, where we all seem clueless. 

I chose the salmon and owl as my totems. Until I read up what what totems really were. Blush. 

 

A friend made me a mala, I looped it on my bedside nightstand. It has given me great comfort there for years. See, clueless. 

 

I could go on for hours probably, the fairy door I put up on a tree in the forest even though I think angels and fairies are all bollox. 

 

What I am though, is a human in process, and learn from what others have tried to teach me. 

What I've observed in life that begins to make me uncomfortable. I get it wrong again and again, 

but I'm working on it. 

I'm reading a loved author who writes mysteries set in the America's four corners and the police have tribal names. I've been feeling guilty doing that, for entertainment and I probably won't read any more. 

I can so relate to this, thank you so much for sharing. I’ve been conflicted because of the way I have felt pulled to eastern spirituality. It’s not something new for me, I was very interested in Buddhism as a teenager. But when I started actually reading Sutras (of both Hindu and Buddhist origin) as an adult then I felt so grasped by it. I am at the point where I am actually silently incorporating some Buddhist teachings in my daily life and it’s been really enriching. But still I have hesitated to acquire a Buddha statue or a Mala because of how sacred I find them and because they are not native to me. So I hesitate, and a lot of shadow emotions come up in the process. It’s clearly a complicated topic for me and I need to come to peace with it on my own. I think I need my own approval and permission somehow. Anyway, that was a bit of a personal musing. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
AJ-ish/Sharyn

looking back it is only after the fact that I receive understanding. I have to have an interest first, then comes research, then comes a better understanding. It is a process. By stumbling I learn.  And I love that mala, not knowing a thing about mala's,  so intent plays a part, I'm not wearing it as jewelry because it looks good with my brown shirt. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Raggydoll
13 minutes ago, AJ-ish/Sharyn said:

looking back it is only after the fact that I receive understanding. I have to have an interest first, then comes research, then comes a better understanding. It is a process. By stumbling I learn.  And I love that mala, not knowing a thing about mala's,  so intent plays a part, I'm not wearing it as jewelry because it looks good with my brown shirt. 

I agree that intent is everything and I do not think that genuine appreciation is wrong in any way. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
gregory

I agree with that too - and I have a few Ganeshas in my home because I think he's wonderful and he cheers me up. On the other hand this kind of thing

 

spacer.png

 

is not OK in my book.

 

I think for me the "bad side", if you like, is using other cultures' traditions and icons (for want of a better word; I'm in a hurry !) just because they are PRETTY, or to make money. I know MiShell was appalled by the Shaman tarot deck, which she found deeply disrespectful of shamanism and also inaccurate in places - as also, in other decks she has pointed out the depictions of Native Americans drumming with their hands rather than sticks. The artist could have taken the time to find out about what they were allegedly portraying, rather than use something they had in their head from - let's face it - cultural appropriation, in a way. The use of symbols and the rest without even bothering to research properly is widespread, and deeply disrespectful. In terms of Tarot, there was a wonderful post from Lillie a few years ago, pointing out that it's not peculiar to what for most of us are "other" cultures; everyone seems to think it's OK to pinch Stonehenge with no thought to the people who take it seriously, they just bung it in to suggest Deep Stuffs.

 

I quote from one of the many articles on line about this:

Quote

Dr. Chong defines cultural appropriation as, "The adoption, often unacknowledged or inappropriate, of the ideas, practices, customs, and cultural identity markers of one society or group by members of another group or society that typically has greater privilege or power." In fashion, for example, cultural appropriation, as explained by actor and activist Amandla Stenberg, “occurs when a style leads to racist generalizations or stereotypes where it originated, but is deemed as high fashion cool or funny when the privileged take it for themselves.”

The consequences of cultural appropriation can have insidious implications regardless of the intentions of the appropriator. "(Mis)Appropriation of cultural elements of marginalized groups by the dominant groups (without the consent of the groups from which the cultural elements are being “borrowed”) often misrepresents and distorts the original meaning of these elements, exoticizes, simplifies, and commodifies them for display and consumption by the mainstream public," Dr. Chong states, "thereby perpetuating the harmful stereotypes of the marginalized groups." In other words, cultural appropriation can become more clearly harmful when a “trend” takes from a minority culture and deems that trend more societally acceptable when the majority culture adopts it.

That is far too often the case. An art work like the one Marigold cites is not in this class. 

 

spacer.png

Edited by gregory

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ashwsh

I agree Gregory, if the statue, symbol or deity means something to you or brings you something, by all means have it. The point I am trying to make it, is to not have it as a showcase or a travel souvenir. There is more to Ganesha than just being a symbol of your travel to India. 
My mil picked a decorative piece when she went to Italy. This stone carved piece was the ‘last supper’, she had no idea about it. One can pass it off as ignorance but in so many years she never made an attempt to even learn about it. I did find it a bit odd. Something that looks good can have more meaning to it than just visual appeal. 

Edited by ashwsh

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.