In the previous few posts I explored the Tom Ford Spring 2012 folklore “inspired” blouse – and questioned whether it is “inspired” or misappropriated. Another lingering question is whether there is a difference between appropriation and misappropriation – when power structures are involved. One of the articles cited mentioned that the key factor was whether a person that is not of the minority culture is “authorized” to use/wear the article. It’s unclear who this authority would come from or how it would be obtained.
One of the difficult things in looking at cultural misappropriation of specifically European culture is the issue of “whiteness” – how can one white culture misappropriate another white culture? All whites are the same right? I mean, they are “equal” in terms of power relations right?… this is not necessarily true. We can’t discuss cultural misappropriation without talking about cultural imperialism. Much of the literature on cultural imperialism deals with either philosophical ideas of power in society or between “the west” and Asia or India. From Wikipedia.
“Ogan saw “media imperialism often described as a process whereby the United States and Western Europe produce most of the media products, make the first profits from domestic sales, and then market the products in Third World countries at costs considerably lower than those the countries would have to bear to produce similar products at home.”
In essence what happens is – first the colonial/imperial nation/culture devalues an aspect or aspects of the minority culture. Then – the imperial nation then adopts the devalued aspect and then commercializes, profits, and resells it back to the minority culture.
I know there is a word for this, I’m not sure what it is yet. But once I find it I will post it here.