Cultural Appropriation and the Limits of Identity: A Case for Multiple Humanity(es)

Chiedza 20 (1):8-31 (2018)
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examine the dominant conversations on cultural appropriation. The first part of the essay will examine the ideological configuration of what constitutes cultural appropriation (hereafter as CA) first, as the politics of the diaspora and second, within a normative understanding of culture and its diachronic contradictions. This will be followed by a critical reevaluation of our subject theme as primarily a discourse of power with multiple implications. Framed as a discourse of power, CA is equally exposed to ideological distortions, and its critics becoming afflicted with the same virus they set out to cure in the first place. I am interested in the aspect of culture as a constant location of tensions and rupture, yet constitutive of core credential in the making of modern identity. I argue that the failure of dominant criticisms of cultural appropriation is precisely because they do not leave epistemic space for prior commitments: the internal variation of culture. If as critics have argued that CA enables cultural violence, we need to understand the epistemic space where cultural violence occurs in order to make a meaningful proposal for identity discourse and conversation. I will make a case for what may be termed multiple humanity (ies) as a way of transcending the homogenous claims imposed upon cultural memories.
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