The Difference Between Cultural Exchange and Cultural Appropriation

Date Published: 9/30/2013

Author(s): Jarune Uwujaren

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Summary: The author explores the line between appropriate forms of cultural exchange and patterns of appropriation, within the lens of western culture. While the delineation is not cut-and-dry, a way to think about exchange is that it should be by invitation, mutual in nature, and underscored with shared understanding and respect. Alternatively, appropriation is associated with an imbalance of power, where someone from the dominant culture takes and uses cultural symbols for personal use.

Take Action!

Take a look at your closet, your throw pillows, photos of you and your friends at Halloween parties. Reexamine if you have been party to cultural appropriation, and commit to reevaluate these behaviors moving forward.