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Who Owns Culture?

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How do we tell the difference between appreciation and appropriation—between exploration and exploitation?

Fashion designers, musicians, and Halloween costume wearers have been accused of engaging in cultural appropriation. In some cases, the alleged appropriator is quick to apologize; in others, they defend their actions as merely an attempt to appreciate a different culture. So why do we find cultural appropriation morally objectionable? Is there a clear-cut way to tell whether we’re exploring or exploiting? And can we come up with principles that allow artists to be inspired while also allowing communities to hold on to what is theirs? Josh and Ray mix it up with Dominic Lopes from the University of British Columbia, author of Being for Beauty: Aesthetic Agency and Value. Sunday, September 18 at 11 am.

Devon Strolovitch studied medieval Judeo-Portuguese manuscripts and earned a PhD in Linguistics from Cornell University before coming to KALW. He is the Senior Producer of Philosophy Talk, and since 2007 has hosted Fog City Blues, the weekly digest of Blues in the Bay Area and beyond.