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Cultural Appropriation: Context Matters

From my research, I can safely conclude that catastrophic cultural appropriation can be avoided if the “borrowing” group not only respects, but also credits the original culture. Take the Japanese women dressing as Chicanas, for example. The video created by Refinery29 uncovers the complexity of cultural appropriation and helps audiences to understand how cultural appropriation may be instigated by a deep respect for another culture. In a conversation between host Connie Wang and Denise Sandoval, a professor of Chicana & Chicano studies at California State University Northridge, about the Japanese adoption of Chola style, an important realization was uncovered: the Japanese women were “making their own meaning” from Chicana culture and “finding liberation and freedom in” it.  To me, this form of cultural appropriation feels acceptable, as the Japanese women are defying their conservative and feminine cultural confines by embodying the fierce and rebellious Chicana spirit. They are using cultural appropriation as a form of self-expression.

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