Cultural Appropriation: Compliment or Theft?

Throughout history, the most successful societies have been the ones that were open to cultural exchange and borrowing. The development of religion, philosophy, science, the arts and technology is the cumulative outcome of communities borrowing, assimilating and copying aspects of each other’s cultural achievements. Today, however, such mingling and remaking is viewed with suspicion if not hostility, denounced by some as ‘racist theft’. Critics of ‘cultural appropriation’ insist that cultural engagement is one thing, but the taking up ‘without permission’ of another culture’s practices, symbols and ideas is another. But can culture really be owned or stolen?

Filmed at the Battle of Ideas 2017, the speakers are Dr Sarah Cheang, Dr Tiffany Jenkins, Kunle Olulode, Bijan Omrani, Sameer Rahim. The chair is Claire Fox.

Battle of Ideas session details