Khaleej Times - City Times - - COVER STORY - ¶ Maán Jalal

W e are liv­ing in ‘po­lit­i­cally cor­rect’ times. No doubt you’ve no­ticed that ev­ery other minute some­one is be­ing of­fended by some­thing some­one said, did, wore or as­sumed.

Peo­ple are even of­fended by the as­sump­tion of of­fense it­self. It’s ex­haust­ing to say the least. And the ex­pec­ta­tion that one must re­mem­ber all the nu­ances of of­fence to ev­ery­one who ever ex­isted all at once is, to me, of­fen­sive.

Cul­tural ap­pro­pri­a­tion is one of those is­sues that many of us are on the fence about or sim­ply don’t un­der­stand. It’s more than a buzz­word, pop­u­lar phrase or a hot topic. The term cul­tural ap­pro­pri­a­tion con­tin­ues to show up on head­lines ac­cus­ing peo­ple of mis­rep­re­sent­ing and mis­in­ter­pret­ing cul­ture to cause of­fense.

OK, let’s take a minute here to think this one through. It’s con­fus­ing we know, it’s com­pli­cated, messy and some­times hard to get our head around it but it’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand what cul­ture ap­pro­pri­a­tion is and to recog­nise that it can cause of­fense.

So, what is cul­tural ap­pro­pri­a­tion? Sim­ply put it is the adop­tion of the el­e­ments of one cul­ture by mem­bers of an­other cul­ture. This “adop­tion” is of­ten con­ducted in a “colo­nial” man­ner mean­ing that these el­e­ments are copied or taken from a mi­nor­ity or op­pressed cul­ture from mem­bers of a more dominant cul­ture and used out­side of their ac­cept­able con­text.

In a place like Dubai, where there is a mul­ti­tude of cul­tures in­ter­min­gling with each other, this idea of cul­tural ap­pro­pri­a­tion might seem in­evitable. But it’s im­por­tant to note here that there is a huge dif­fer­ence between cul­tural ap­pro­pri­a­tion and fu­sion. Most no­tably we’ve seen that when it comes to fash­ion, style and per­for­mance, cul­tural ap­pro­pri­a­tion seems to be a ma­jor is­sue.

So in an at­tempt to make ev­ery­one’s life a lit­tle bit eas­ier, we’ve listed re­cent ex­am­ples of al­leged cul­tural ap­pro­pri­a­tion and how you can avoid get­ting caught mak­ing the same mis­takes.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.