Cultural appropriation

Zumarrad

Member
I love it when people's only comeback is to say "well your nation are arseholes so you have no right to speak". Where did I or anybody else say NZ and Australia were superior to Americans or anybody else? Or did better on the cultural appropriation rap?

When I was a child I didn't understand my own privilege and could whine with the best of them about the famine and the 600 years of oppression and four green fields one of them in bondage and my aunty couldn't go to high school because she was a Catholic etc etc, oh and I'm a woman wah wah patriarchy and I was bullied in school boo hoo. But I am an adult now. And you know, we are living now, not 500 years ago or a thousand years ago or in 1850 or 1918 or 1972 or 1991. There is not one set of people on earth that has not harmed another set of people on earth, in some cases aggressively and at length. We can all find some victimhood in our ancestral makeup if we dig hard enough, and some time being an oppressive arsehole.

That is not the point. We need to look at the sociopolitical circumstances we operate in now, and to consider our roles as purchasers of, operators in and representatives of a globalised product that has at its heart, and continues to signify whether we like it or not, a chunk of culture from some fairly disenfranchised and impoverished parts of the world. That is all I ask. That we recognise the complex nature of our relationships to the dance and the music rather than look at it solely as something we bought at the supermarket and can "own", or as something we need to "save", or as a thing that we deserve total agency over because we "bought" it. It's not about "wah wah an Arab liked my dancing and showed me a move, therefore I can do what I like" or "it's my culture to do this or that therefore I can do what I like" or even "nobody can do this thing because it's not from their culture". It is not about simplistic judgment calls on who is better or worse or more or less special in the world. This whole thing is complicated. And we need to recognise that the power is not in balance. Just as the power is not in balance when you come from any country that needs to keep larger world powers on side in order to survive. We all come from places with differing relationships to the current world powers, and that in turn affects how we interact to some degree with our portable globalised bellydance culture.

I am not generally a flouncer but I feel I'm done here again.
 

kantorlight

New member
I've finally cooled down enough to rejoin the conversation.

. . . .


The fish has spoken. and is returning to her lake.

Splash.
I'm going to echo Farasha and say that we agree on the whole premise of this: "stealing bits and pieces of different cultures with no regard to the peoples of those cultures is insensitive and wrong." Individuals are capable of learning or incorporating element of other cultures, but in an educated, sensitive way. I think most belly dancers approach the dance in this way, I just think it's something that we should regularly re-assess.

As for for comments on the genocide of Native Americans, I'm just going to suggest that you do some additional research before continuing to hold your point of view.

"Appropriation is very situational. be aware."
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Minor in American History and a great grandfather who was an enrolled member of one of the Oklahoma tribes. Forty years of researching and writing historical articles on the American West. Will that do for you?

There is not one set of people on earth that has not harmed another set of people on earth, in some cases aggressively and at length... That is not the point.
It was indeed one of the points and the related response was to a particular assertion made by kantorlight. No whining was done; a comparative example was offered. Period.

No matter how sensitive one tries to be re: other cultures, someone is going to get torqued up about something. One does the best one can and goes forward from there.
 

kantorlight

New member
Minor in American History and a great grandfather who was an enrolled member of one of the Oklahoma tribes. Forty years of researching and writing historical articles on the American West. Will that do for you?
Interesting. You mean that same American history that recorded 30,000 Native deaths? The US Government currently admits to killing between 1-4 million. The now more commonly accepted number is at least 10 million. So apparently, no, it won't do, if you are not incorporating your source's bias into your interpretation.

No matter how sensitive one tries to be re: other cultures, someone is going to get torqued up about something. One does the best one can and goes forward from there.
"someone is going to get torqued up about something"? Talk about a cop out, not to mention the way in which you are tossing aside the voices of those who do get "torqued up." I'm going to include again that bit on 'sensitivity.'

"One doing the best one can" is a reflective, ongoing process.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Not once have I denied that genocide existed or that the American Indian has suffered indignities, prejudice, and injustice at the hands of the guys who won. I know about the Long Walk, the Trail of Tears and a number of similar events that you may not ever have heard of because they don't get written about often.

What I have said is that in order to understand any given historical situation, including this one, all participating groups must be given their due, both positive and negative. Anything else is facile and shortsighted.

Talk about a cop out, not to mention the way in which you are tossing aside the voices of those who do get "torqued up." I'm going to include again that bit on 'sensitivity.'
Oh, sweet mother of god, do you deny that no matter what choice a person makes someone is going to object to it? Even choosing to say "torqued up" rather than "upset" gets someone pushed out of shape. :lol:

With that, we have left the realm of the ridiculous and entered the land of the sublime. It's too late. My sense of the absurd has kicked in and I am Alice falling down the rabbit hole. Any minute now the discussion is going to turn to the moral wrongs of using hedge hogs for croquet balls.

Thank goodness we can at least agree that " 'One doing the best one can' is a reflective, ongoing process."

See ya, kantorlight. Live long and prosper.
 

kantorlight

New member
all participating groups must be given their due, both positive and negative.
"Given their due" is not the same as trusting a source wholesale. The winners (aka war criminals and oppressors) always get to write the textbooks.

Oh, sweet mother of god, do you deny that no matter what choice a person makes someone is going to object to it? Even choosing to say "torqued up" rather than "upset" gets someone pushed out of shape. :lol:
The phrase "it is impossible to please everyone" is a fairly accurate one. However, to bring it up in the context of appropriation is to diminish and dehumanize those that do get 'torqued up' or 'upset' when their own cultures are misrepresented. Not to mention you are implying "someone's going to get torqued up" as in "you can't please everyone, so I can do whatever I want." It is the height of arrogance and entitlement. This is a great resource on the intersection on privilege and appropriation. A YouTube search of some lectures by Tim Wise would also be good.

"We all come from places with differing relationships to the current world powers, and that in turn affects how we interact to some degree with our portable globalised bellydance culture."
 
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Shanazel

Super Moderator
A few more important historical words: Primary Sources. Three independent primary sources that confirm a piece of information before accepting information as reliable.

Textbooks as a research source? Seriously?

As for the other: too late. Too late. I am at the bottom of the rabbit hole and looking for the little cakes that say "bite me."
 

kantorlight

New member
Textbooks as a research source? Seriously?
-_-
It was a re-writing of Churchill's “History is written by the victors,” but if you want it to mean that my sources are textbooks . . . by all means.

As for the other: too late. Too late. I am at the bottom of the rabbit hole and looking for the little cakes that say "bite me."
What an appropriate analogy, as you are certainly down the rabbit hole of privilege. You would do very well to read this article by Peggy McIntosh.And this one.
 
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Shanazel

Super Moderator
Actually I thought you were suggesting my sources are textbooks.

Sorry, dear. It really is too late. One cannot discuss historical research and related matters with a person who has little or no background in the subject. It starts with a coined cliche and goes downhill from there.

I admire your tenacity but there are so many interesting things here at the bottom of the rabbit hole. I understand if I go through that mirror over there I can become a queen. Now that's privilege.

I might look look quite spiffy with a tiara. :think:

'Night.
 

kantorlight

New member
Sorry, dear. It really is too late. One cannot discuss historical research and related matters with a person who has little or no background in the subject. It starts with a coined cliche and goes downhill from there.
Little to no background? How about a degree in anthropology with an emphasis in North and Central American history, and experience doing archaeology for the ****** Nation?




*I realized that it was in poor taste to specifically name the group I worked with.
 
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Shanazel

Super Moderator
Nope. If you consider textbooks even reasonably acceptable research materials, it's not enough.

I gotta quit this. I am having way too much fun at this point and the horses need to be fed.

Bless your heart, Kantorlight, you have a good night and keep fighting the powers of darkness wherever you find them.
 

kantorlight

New member
Nope. If you consider textbooks even reasonably acceptable research materials, it's not enough.
The fact that you are fixating on this (which I clarified as a mis-remembered, re-written Churchill quote, which acknowledges the power of colonialism, not a statement on what is or isn't 'acceptable research materials'), as well as your dismissal of the accepted sociology/social psychology/anthropology concept known as privilege is as laughable as it is upsetting.

Have fun feeding the horses and clinging to those outmoded paradigms.
 
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DancingArabian

New member
I'm going to throw in my thoughts on cultural apropriation being right or wrong with a very solid "It depends".

I think it depends on your representation. If you are advertsing yourself as a dancer of X type, then you should absolutely know all about X type, it's nuances, costuming, music, etc. You should not be mixing Y or Z type in there, you shouldn't be in a type Q costume etc. This is multiplied by a million if your type X has a country of origin and you are there.

If you are advertising as a "fusion" of some sort, then you have tons of flexibility. Since it's "fusion" and thus "mixed" then you can pick and choose the rules and things you follow.

I don't think most, if any, dancers marke themselves as a particular style and intentionally do it poorly or incorrectly, or even with any intention of causing offense. I also don't think that one should watch a performance and expect it to be completely culturally and historically accurate unless it is specifically marketed that way. Especially with something like belly dance. Why? There are SO many sources that one can reference that it's pretty much impossible to say what's right, what's wrong, what's way off and what's just a little off.
 

Farasha Hanem

New member
I agree that fusion dances should be labelled as fusion, and that care should still be taken that respect should be shown to the cultural dances that are used in fusions. I think this is the thing that is driving me insane in the area I live in. Most bellydance students (and a few teachers) are just there to have fun, and know little to nothing about the history of bellydance. Nothing wrong with having fun, but every time I hear a baby student spout about the dance being "for women, by women," and being "thousands of years old, performed by temple priestesses," I want to scream and pull my hair out. Multiply that feeling by a thousand when I hear my young teacher in class say , "We're GYPSIES, we're wild and free!" or have to "freestyle" to Shakira. I have to bite my tongue to keep from hurting feelings and looking like a little smart aleck upstart, because I still haven't figured out a tactful way to present to my teacher how hurtful such abuses are to not only our art, but also to the cultures from which it stems.

I love people, but some of them drive me out of my ever-living mind. :wall:
 

DancingArabian

New member
I agree that fusion dances should be labelled as fusion, and that care should still be taken that respect should be shown to the cultural dances that are used in fusions. I think this is the thing that is driving me insane in the area I live in. Most bellydance students (and a few teachers) are just there to have fun, and know little to nothing about the history of bellydance. Nothing wrong with having fun, but every time I hear a baby student spout about the dance being "for women, by women," and being "thousands of years old, performed by temple priestesses," I want to scream and pull my hair out. Multiply that feeling by a thousand when I hear my young teacher in class say , "We're GYPSIES, we're wild and free!" or have to "freestyle" to Shakira. I have to bite my tongue to keep from hurting feelings and looking like a little smart aleck upstart, because I still haven't figured out a tactful way to present to my teacher how hurtful such abuses are to not only our art, but also to the cultures from which it stems.

I love people, but some of them drive me out of my ever-living mind. :wall:

The stories are part of the fun, IMO.

The ones that do the gypsy thing or the Shakira stuff aren't belly dancing per se....they're doing a little fantasy where they're momentarily the imagined gypsy, or Shakira in front of an audience. They're imagining being the temple priestess, or maybe even the slave girl, or maybe even the servant hauling things around (I was once told the origin of the camel was from women who carried baskets of water on their head - it's allegedly how they had to move to balance the basket).

Sure some people believe that belly dance is really just ancient lamaze, or that it was how slave girls competed for favor, or any number of other things.

Many (most?) dancers are not doing belly dance to be a sort of cultural representation. They're just there to have fun, exercise, feel lovely, etc. They're dancing, they're keeping it alive. Smile, correct politely if you feel like it, and remember that you started somewhere too. Maybe you thought all gypsies covered themselves in coins and belly danced around the fire, maybe you wanted to feel the sexiness Shakira gives off, maybe you even wanted to be the favored slave girl prized for her dancing. Point is, we all started somewhere.

We've got to take a step back and well...just not be so serious.

Belly dancing isn't what it was, and in 50 years from now I bet it will have changed some more. As long as people belly dance, it will always change. There is no way to 'preserve' what it was originally - it's already changed. Who knows how much truth we even have documented. Consider how many years and years that belly dance existed somewhere out there without documentation. Maybe back 100 years ago there were people bemoaning what belly dance has become.
 

Farasha Hanem

New member
The stories are part of the fun, IMO.

The ones that do the gypsy thing or the Shakira stuff aren't belly dancing per se....they're doing a little fantasy where they're momentarily the imagined gypsy, or Shakira in front of an audience. They're imagining being the temple priestess, or maybe even the slave girl, or maybe even the servant hauling things around (I was once told the origin of the camel was from women who carried baskets of water on their head - it's allegedly how they had to move to balance the basket).

Sure some people believe that belly dance is really just ancient lamaze, or that it was how slave girls competed for favor, or any number of other things.

Many (most?) dancers are not doing belly dance to be a sort of cultural representation. They're just there to have fun, exercise, feel lovely, etc. They're dancing, they're keeping it alive. Smile, correct politely if you feel like it, and remember that you started somewhere too. Maybe you thought all gypsies covered themselves in coins and belly danced around the fire, maybe you wanted to feel the sexiness Shakira gives off, maybe you even wanted to be the favored slave girl prized for her dancing. Point is, we all started somewhere.

We've got to take a step back and well...just not be so serious.

Belly dancing isn't what it was, and in 50 years from now I bet it will have changed some more. As long as people belly dance, it will always change. There is no way to 'preserve' what it was originally - it's already changed. Who knows how much truth we even have documented. Consider how many years and years that belly dance existed somewhere out there without documentation. Maybe back 100 years ago there were people bemoaning what belly dance has become.
:confused:???

Nope, I started out as the four-year-old who, after watching bellydancing in movies from the '50's and '60's on TV, wanted to learn how to do a bellyroll correctly; even at that young age, I knew I was doing something wrong. :think:

I've always been the kind of person who takes her hobbies/interests seriously, even as a child. My grandfather taught me, "If something is worth doing, it's worth doing well." For me, that's the fun of learning to do something.


EDIT: Oh, Aniseteph, I'm sorry, I meant to tell you that I took no offense to anything you said. *hugs*
 
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Farasha Hanem

New member
Oh, something else (doggone it, wish I could remember EVERYTHING I want to say at one time, instead of realizing later I forgot to say it. Stupid old age...it's not fun getting progressively more forgetful... :confused: ). I did say in my post that there's nothing wrong with having fun. Nothing wrong at all... as long as we still take responsibility for the way we represent what it is we're doing.That's what this whole debate is about, not being guilty of passing on "wishtory," and respecting the cultures of other people. Have fun, yes, by all means, as long as we use wisdom while doing so.
 

Kashmir

New member
I'm going to throw in my thoughts on cultural apropriation being right or wrong with a very solid "It depends".

I think it depends on your representation. If you are advertsing yourself as a dancer of X type, then you should absolutely know all about X type, it's nuances, costuming, music, etc. You should not be mixing Y or Z type in there, you shouldn't be in a type Q costume etc. This is multiplied by a million if your type X has a country of origin and you are there.

If you are advertising as a "fusion" of some sort, then you have tons of flexibility. Since it's "fusion" and thus "mixed" then you can pick and choose the rules and things you follow.
Actually "cultural appropriation" is about taking parts of another culture without permission. In most cases people are resonably happy about respectful and genuine uses of culture (there are exceptions - especially when connected to religion or identity which is why some Maori are against the use of moko and haka by non-Maori).

When reflecting accurate and honest expressions of raqs sharqi and raqs beledi few people from the source culture seem to be upset. When they do get upset is when a mix and match approach is used - whether it is mixing inappropriate music, costumes, moves, or cultures ie "fusion". Few Egyptians I have spoken to feel this improves the dance. Many give a WTF response. But when mixing with myths such as freedom loving "gypsies" and sluttish beledi women I have seen real anger. Thus fusion is the area that is most likley to cause offense.

There are SO many sources that one can reference that it's pretty much impossible to say what's right, what's wrong, what's way off and what's just a little off.
Actually you can. I have spent most of my post-beginner studies with Egyptian (as born and danced in Egypt) teachers and dancers. The dance is not lost in the mists of time. It is a living culture and there are people who have observed and studied first hand.
 

Farasha Hanem

New member
Actually "cultural appropriation" is about taking parts of another culture without permission. In most cases people are resonably happy about respectful and genuine uses of culture (there are exceptions - especially when connected to religion or identity which is why some Maori are against the use of moko and haka by non-Maori).

When reflecting accurate and honest expressions of raqs sharqi and raqs beledi few people from the source culture seem to be upset. When they do get upset is when a mix and match approach is used - whether it is mixing inappropriate music, costumes, moves, or cultures ie "fusion". Few Egyptians I have spoken to feel this improves the dance. Many give a WTF response. But when mixing with myths such as freedom loving "gypsies" and sluttish beledi women I have seen real anger. Thus fusion is the area that is most likley to cause offense.


Actually you can. I have spent most of my post-beginner studies with Egyptian (as born and danced in Egypt) teachers and dancers. The dance is not lost in the mists of time. It is a living culture and there are people who have observed and studied first hand.
:clap::clap::clap::clap:
 

Kashmir

New member
The stories are part of the fun, IMO.

The ones that do the gypsy thing or the Shakira stuff aren't belly dancing per se....they're doing a little fantasy where they're momentarily the imagined gypsy, or Shakira in front of an audience. They're imagining being the temple priestess, or maybe even the slave girl, or maybe even the servant hauling things around (I was once told the origin of the camel was from women who carried baskets of water on their head - it's allegedly how they had to move to balance the basket).
Baskets of water?????

Sure, no problem with a little fantasy - as long as people know it is fantasy and nothing to do with the real thing. But in that case, why do they need to use the "belly dance" label? I mean, if I like eating candyfloss why call it chicken kiev? That goes triple for teachers.

Many (most?) dancers are not doing belly dance to be a sort of cultural representation. They're just there to have fun, exercise, feel lovely, etc. They're dancing, they're keeping it alive. Smile, correct politely if you feel like it, and remember that you started somewhere too. Maybe you thought all gypsies covered themselves in coins and belly danced around the fire, maybe you wanted to feel the sexiness Shakira gives off, maybe you even wanted to be the favored slave girl prized for her dancing. Point is, we all started somewhere.
Actually it is being kept alive - in homes in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey - just the professional part is having problems.

And no, I never believed any of that crap. My first teacher had solid technique and a great grasp of the dance (she had studied folk and flamenco before belly dance). She passed on accurate knowledge. Then the first workshop I attended was with Aisha Ali. I don't need the dance to provide my fantasy life.
 
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