Cultural appropriation


The cultural appropriation is the adoption of certain elements of another culture without the consent of the persons belonging to that culture. It’s a controversial issue, one that activists and celebrities have helped bring to the national spotlight. However, much of the public remains confused about what the term actually means.

What is cultural appropriation?

It is the use of different typical elements of a certain culture, stripping it of its meaning and hindering its use, it is considered a usurpation of culture for purposes that are not related to the same culture.


Cultural appropriation has little to do with exposure and familiarity with different cultures. Instead, cultural appropriation generally involves members of a dominant group that exploits the culture of less privileged groups . Very often this is done along racial and ethnic lines with little understanding of the latter’s history , experience, and traditions.

  • What is cultural appropriation
  • Causes
  • Consequences
  • How to avoid cultural appropriation
  • Examples of cultural appropriation

What is cultural appropriation

Cultural appropriation consists of the use that is given to some cultural elements that are typical of an ethnic group by a different group and causing the loss of all the meaning of the culture . In other words, it is what happens when a cultural element is usurped for purposes that are not related to its original essence .

It is also important to mention that taking some cultural aspects from other places is not bad at all, on the contrary, it can even be full of benefits , but it must be taken into account that the culture of the ideas or customs are being taken. For example, Picasso copied some examples of African art that had positive results or dressing up as an Indian in America , which is clearly a mistake considering what they did to them, but they are very difficult situations to avoid.


Cultural appropriation is caused by a dynamic of power in which the members of a dominant group taking cultural elements of a group oppressed that they have mastered. Appropriation is about exploitation . Most of the time, appropriation takes place without a deep understanding of those cultures: their history, their traditions, and the current social experiences of their people. We could say then that selfishness , lack of originality and ignorance are aspects that definitely move some people to appropriate cultures that are not their own.


Some of the consequences of cultural appropriation are the following:

Appropriation offends and causes harm to the different cultures that are victims of it. The introduction of systems of oppression , patriarchy and empowerment offend people and are characteristics included within appropriation.

The different stereotypes that people have are penetrated in a dangerous way because many times irreparable damage is caused in cultures.

It includes a dynamic based on the power of only one so that when it occurs, it does not generate power for both sides.

What seems unimportant to some people may be highly relevant to others, for this reason when they appropriate the culture of another people or person, the desire to do some kind of harm is implicit.

How to avoid cultural appropriation

The best way to avoid cultural appropriation can be done by:

  • Check that when studying a certain culture the sources are original and that they are generated by the same culture. It is not worth studying subjects that are not real and that often end in racist ideas .
  • Make sure you study the culture in detail and understand why they live the way they do. You will never finish learning cultural aspects of a place and less if you do it superficially and from places that are not true.
  • Recognize the real meaning of culture and maintain respect for it.
  • Do not catalog places or cultures with words such as ” exotic “ or ” mysterious “ because each culture along with its beliefs must be respected.

Examples of cultural appropriation

Many times the contexts of some people or organizations have been criticized because they exercise cultural appropriation, mainly those that are or are closely related to art, fashion and aesthetics. For example, some fashion magazines have been criticized for using white-skinned models to represent aesthetic models that are not Western in clothing from cultures considered “exotic”.

The same can be observed within the field of music . Many artists have been criticized and even accused of resorting to cultural appropriation, such as, for example, Miley Cyrus with the twerk or Katy Perry for wearing clothes associated with the Japanese stereotype as she is of another nationality . And these examples we could place even many years ago, for example, Elvis Presley, when he commercialized music that was only part of the African-American culture, until he made it fashionable.

The universities and organizations of all kinds are also in the eye of cultural appropriation acts such market related meditation non – Western style, or even yoga.

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