The Ethics of Cultural Appropriation

The Ethics of Cultural Appropriation

The Ethics of Cultural Appropriation

The Ethics of Cultural Appropriation

Synopsis

The Ethics of Cultural Appropriation undertakes a comprehensive and systematic investigation of the moral and aesthetic questions that arise from the practice of cultural appropriation.
  • Explores cultural appropriation in a wide variety of contexts, among them the arts and archaeology, museums, and religion
  • Questions whether cultural appropriation is always morally objectionable
  • Includes research that is equally informed by empirical knowledge and general normative theory
  • Provides a coherent and authoritative perspective gained by the collaboration of philosophers and specialists in the field who all participated in this unique research project

Excerpt

The origins of this volume can be traced to the summer of 2002. In July of that year, Conrad Brunk took up the position of professor of philosophy and director of the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society (CSRS) at the University of Victoria. Soon after arriving, he invited the other editor of this volume, James Young, chair of the Department of Philosophy, to have lunch at University Club and discuss possibilities for research collaboration. Conrad was particularly interested in utilizing an interdisciplinary team research model that had produced a number of successful books at his research centre, and wondered if James might have a research topic that would work well using this model. For some time, James had been investigating the ethical and aesthetic issues that arise from the practice of cultural appropriation in the arts. He had become aware that ethical issues arose from cultural appropriation in a variety of other contexts besides the arts. He was also aware that only a large team of specialists from a variety of disciplines could hope to reveal and solve the ethical problems posed by cultural appropriation. At this meeting the editors decided to apply to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for support for just such a team of specialists.

The two editors decided to propose a novel modification to the very successful CSRS interdisciplinary team model. In addition to attempting a highly integrated team-authored book, we thought, quite ambitiously, that we could also produce integrated team-authored chapters in the book. We felt that the topic lent itself especially well to this approach, because the various areas in which cultural appropriation takes place have well developed literatures on the issues involved that needed to be taken seriously. This could best be addressed by having persons who practice within a particular area work together with a specialist in ethics, so that the ethical discussion was appropriately engaged with the debate and the real issues in the area. This is what we proposed to the SSHRC.

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