“Cultural Appropriation: Critical Dialogues on Cultural Awareness”

“Cultural appropriation” describes the taking of creative or artistic forms, themes, or practices by one cultural group from another; generally Western appropriations of non‐Western or non‐white form. The act of cultural appropriation connotes cultural exploitation and dominance (Oxford). More broadly, cultural appropriation is the taking of intellectual property, cultural expressions, or artifacts, history and ways of knowledge from a culture that is not one’s own (Ziff). The goal of this symposium is to expand awareness of issues relevant to all communities by providing a space for scholarly and community dialogue. We will explore the various forms of cultural appropriation and cultural literacy and buffoonery while offering historical perspectives and explore the sociopolitical and cultural ramifications of these acts and behaviors. Conversation will be facilitated through the lens of race, gender, sexuality, class, age, ability, etc. to demonstrate the complexities and perils of cultural appropriation as it relates to personal and national identities. We will further demonstrate the value and necessity of cultivating positive communications, inclusive language, advocacy, self-awareness, and cultural competency.


Research, American history, current events, and the realities of the social climate across the country will provide context for this proposed critical dialogue on cultural appropriation, cultural (in)sensitivity and awareness, and “political correctness.”


Arizona’s ban on ethnic students, its contentious SB 1070 immigration legislation, among other things, means that adult politics profoundly impact young peoples’ lives. This critical conversation will enlighten, bring about awareness, and motivate students to be agents of change by engaging in meaningful conversations, taking a personal stand, and educating themselves and others through informed social discourse. We will demonstrate the power of “talking, listening, connecting”—our Project Humanities mantra—in a way that does not privilege adult perspectives over young adult and adolescent perspectives. Ultimately, this symposium will bring about awareness, explore subtle and more overt manifestations of bias, privilege, cultural appropriation, and offer strategies for taking action once awareness is clear.

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