In this paper, I present an outline of the oppression account of cultural
appropriation and argue that it offers the best explanation for the wrongfulness of the varied
and complex cases of appropriation to which people often object. I then compare the
oppression account with the intimacy account defended by C. Thi Nguyen and Matt Strohl.
Though I believe that Nguyen and Strohl’s account offers important insight into an essential
dimension of the cultural appropriation debate, I argue that justified objections to cultural
appropriation must ultimately be grounded in considerations of oppression as opposed to
group intimacy. I present three primary objections to the intimacy account. First, I suggest
that in its effort to explain expressive appropriation claims (those that purportedly lack an
independent ground), the intimacy account doubles down on the boundary problem.
Second, I question whether group intimacy possess the kind of bare normativity that
Nguyen and Strohl claim for it. Finally, I argue that these objections give us reason to accept
the importance of group intimacy to the cultural appropriation debate, but question the
source of its significance as identified by Nguyen and Strohl.