Cultural Appropriation Defined

By, of course, a law professor. Specifically, Susan Scafidi, a law professor at Fordham, defines it as “Taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission. This can include unauthorized use of another culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols, etc. It’s most likely to be harmful when the source community is a ​minority group that has been oppressed or exploited in other ways or when the object of appropriation is particularly sensitive, e.g. sacred objects.”
Randall Holcombe, a research fellow at the Independent Institute, points out the slippery slope that puts us on: “Following that definition, it would seem that American (and perhaps more broadly, Western) culture is the most appropriated culture in the world today. Everywhere in the world, people have adopted Western styles of dress, music, language, and cuisine.”

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