ITP Camp 2022

Cultural Appropriation vs. Appreciation

Dissecting the hot-topic concept of "cultural appropriation" in popular culture (fashion, tech, gaming, music, etc.) and other sectors—especially as relates to and impacts Indigenous Peoples around the world.

Uncountable images, sounds, stories, formulas, and information sources are accessible to anyone with a phone or computer today, disconnected from their original creators, cultures, and contexts—far too often, deemed "there for the taking." Inauthentic and often offensively stereotyped projects, performances, and products, meanwhile, still persist in the public imaginary and, too often, the marketplace. Meanwhile, too, the term "tribal" is thrown around as a generic catch-all description for all kinds of things, intending to evoke yet not actually specific to any actual tribal culture or aesthetic. Confusion abounds! The tide is changing—but not fast enough.

We'll chat about FPIC (free, prior, and informed consent)—a framework that has gained currency in prevailing discussions around climate issues, the arts, trade agreements and lawmaking internationally, including with regard to (for a few examples) the World Trade Organization (WTO), World Intellectual Property organization (WIPO), and outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. And how does good old copyright and trademarking factor into who gets to decide who can do or use or reproduce something—or not?

We'll consider what makes for ethical engagement, as well as equitable partnerships whenever the inevitable interest arises to include something from Indigenous cultural heritage and traditional knowledge by mainstream, non-Indigenous lead entities. There's no better way to insure more authenticity and better quality, surely, in any relevant projects, programs, and products than through equitable engagement and collaboration.

This session will include checking out some notable examples of appropriation (the wrong way) and then some hopeful notes of appreciation and collaboration (the right way). I hope, in all cases, that we can have an open, earnest conversation about the nuances and complexities around this issue.