Cultural Appropriation or Cultural Appreciation?

Cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation… what are they and what’s the difference between them? That’s what’s under the microscope this evening at the Dairy Arts Center in Boulder. The workshop will be moderated by Ashmi Desai, a postdoctoral Associate at CU Boulder’s School of Education, and it’s part of the CU Dialogues series.


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    Cultural Appropriation or Cultural Appreciation? KGNU News


Ashmi Desai spoke to KGNU about her perspective of cultural appropriation. “I’m coming at it really through a sense of power, and looking at, what is it like when you look at manifested ways in which culture comes across whether it’s music or poetry or art or food, all kinds of ways in which we navigate culture. When that comes into contact with less powerful more powerful, people in different cultures, how does that interaction take place? What are the ramifications or consequences for people taking up a cultural way of being, especially when there’s unequal power structures.”


As a child in India, Desai was exposed to MTV. This lead her and her peers to rebel against the structures of their culture, such as not wearing bindi or avoiding worshipping in the temple. Things changed for her when she began to see stars on MTV wearing bindi and addressing her culture, which made her look at it differently. Upon entering the United States, however, she came to her understanding that those stars wearing her culture is something that benefited them, and when she did it she was still seen as a foreigner, and still had stereotypes applied to her.


America in some ways still prides itself on being a melting pot. One of the ways that this surfaces itself is food. “Food is a very interesting topic and an extremely gray area actually because even when we talk about indian food, there are folks out there at CU Boulder and universities who know that ‘what do we even call indian food or mexican food, there’s just been so much interaction between cultures’ Chili is not native to India, samosas came from somewhere else, so when we start talking about that there’s still, that applies to clothing as well, but there’s a sense of what is original and what do you think becomes appropriated. I feel it’s the sentiment that’s associated with a particular thing.”


Ashmi Desai will be hosting a workshop at the Dairy Arts Center in Boulder, Wednesday, Feb 27th in which the topic of cultural appropriation versus appreciation will be talked through in more depth.

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    Cultural Appropriation or Cultural Appreciation? KGNU News

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