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livredor
Something powerful
Friday, 23 January 2009 at 03:26 pm
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This essay has been linked all over the place, but I think only about a third of my flist move in circles where you'll have seen it already. It's sort of a Jewish take on Cultural Appropriation, but only sort of. I think emotionally it feels very appealing to me, and it's very beautifully written and all, but after I stopped to think about it for 30 seconds I'm not sure I agree.

I'm kind of agnostic about cultural appropriation at all. I really have no problem with the fact that Americans eat bagels with ham, or sprinkle their conversation with Yiddish words which bear little relationship to the tiny little fragments of Yiddish I picked up from my father's family. And I have no problem with people using bits of Jewish mythology in novels, even if it's garbled. But some of the stuff in nextian's post does bother me. I want to underline that she's not saying that Christianity itself is an appropriation of Judaism, she's saying that assuming that Judaism is nothing but a precursor to Christianity or talking about "Judeo-Christian society" erases the Jews who are alive today and actively engaged with our tradition. And the kind of atheism which says, the Bible is really dumb LOL! without actually having any understanding how the Bible is part of a whole religious framework is pretty rude to Christians as well as Jews, but that's another thing, and I have a pretty good idea why atheists, especially American ones, are defensive about these things.

(I probably shouldn't get into this, but I think the recent Cultural Appropriation stuff was mostly not about Cultural Appropriation at all, it was about actual racism. None of the main players were saying, I hate it when white people write about my non-American culture or about characters with dark skin, which was how it seemed to come across to many white readers. They were saying, I hate it when white writers use lazy and offensive stereotypes of my culture and ethnicity. Or, I hate the fact that I barely have a culture because my country and language were wrecked by colonialism.)

But yeah, reading that post I can see how easy it would be to get into a mindset of being massively offended about how my minority culture is treated by the majority culture, and constructing a certain language framework and taking it as an affront when anyone made any remark outside that framework. I don't know if that's helpful or not (cakmpls has an interesting piece arguing that getting into this sort of mindset is harmful, because it lumps together all the members of an oppressed people instead of treating them as individuals. I'm inclined to her point of view, though I wouldn't go so far as to ban the terms sexist and racist altogether.) This isn't a very accomplished post, just a statement of being in a confused emotional state.

Advertised research jobs:
Applications sent - 3 (Dundee, Oxford, Glasgow). Progress - one guy has asked my boss for references.
Lecturer jobs:
Applications sent - 4 (Birmingham, East London, Teeside, London Met). Progress - none.
Writing jobs:
Applications sent - 1 (PLoS, based in Cambridge). Progress - none. I don't think this one's going to come through, actually.


Whereaboooots: Älvsjö, Stockholm, Sweden
Moooood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Tuuuuune: Neko Case: A widow's toast
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cakmpls: default
From:cakmpls
Date:January 23rd, 2009 03:51 pm (UTC)
32 minutes after journal entry, 10:51 am (cakmpls's time)
(Link)
I think the recent Cultural Appropriation stuff was mostly not about Cultural Appropriation at all, it was about actual racism.

It certainly seemed that way to me--especially, in fact, the open letter that started it all.
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livredor: teapot
From:livredor
Date:January 23rd, 2009 04:04 pm (UTC)
45 minutes after journal entry, 05:04 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
Oh, I crossed with you, just as you were posting this comment I was editing the post to include a link to your recent post on isms. But yeah, not only were people yelling at eachother, they were yelling about entirely different topics, with the POC participants yelling that racism hurts them, and the white people yelling that they have a perfect right to write whatever suits their artistic vision. Which was very strange to observe, from the outside.
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simont: default
From:simont
Date:January 23rd, 2009 04:04 pm (UTC)
45 minutes after journal entry
(Link)
What is "the recent Cultural Appropriation stuff" of which you speak? I'm getting the strong feeling that there's been a recent protracted debate which I've managed to completely miss and without which I can make less sense of all this than I might like.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
From:ext_72852
Date:January 23rd, 2009 04:09 pm (UTC)
50 minutes after journal entry
(Link)
I liked this one: http://foreverdirt.livejournal.com/363357.html
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livredor: ewe
From:livredor
Date:January 23rd, 2009 04:11 pm (UTC)
52 minutes after journal entry, 05:11 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
It's mostly within US-based media fandom, which is why I thought about a third of my friends list would have seen everything already and the rest would be completely in the dark. In summary, someone called Avalon's Willow wrote a post complaining about racism in the novels of Elizabeth Bear, and lots of people attempted to defend Bear by making racist comments (like, black people are only offended by this because they're too stupid and not academic enough to understand Bear's writing properly, and that's not an exaggeration), and then it all dissolved into one of those awful flamewars where LJ's technical awfulness of spreading the conversation across 30 different journals adds to the social awfulness of people having a big fight about racism.
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simont: default
From:simont
Date:January 23rd, 2009 04:21 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry
(Link)
Thanks. I think between your link to the start of it and Mair's link to the end, my imagination can fill in enough of the bit in the middle to make it fairly clear that I don't want to go away and read it for real!
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pw201: default
From:pw201
Date:January 23rd, 2009 06:34 pm (UTC)
3 hours after journal entry, 07:34 pm (pw201's time)
(Link)
Someone on Mefi described it as the usual PC circular firing squad, a term I quite like: in a circular firing squad, you'd shoot the person closest to you. (I'm not sure I'd agree that liberal infighting has kept conservatives in power, as I imagine conservatives do their own infighting too).
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livredor: ewe
From:livredor
Date:January 23rd, 2009 10:21 pm (UTC)
7 hours after journal entry, 11:21 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
"Circular firing squad" is a bit of a cliché, and it's something that can happen with people trying to outdo eachother in political correctness without actually addressing the problems that they are supposed to be engaged with. But I think it's a bit facile to argue that people who are faced with racist remarks should keep quiet for the sake of the unity of some mythical "liberal movement". Just because someone is a feminist and generally uses fairly right-on language, it doesn't make it ok for them to be racist. And if they are racist, the blame doesn't fall equally on the people who get angry with them for being racist, even if anger leads to both "sides" behaving badly..
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From:gjm11
Date:January 25th, 2009 10:43 pm (UTC)
2 days after journal entry
(Link)
My mental image of a circular firing squad has a circle of people, all firing more or less across a diameter at one another. Perhaps with someone in the middle whom they're all supposed to be shooting at, perhaps not. The idea is that everyone thinks they're taking aim at (perhaps different views of) some common enemy, but they end up just hitting one another.
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lavendersparkle: Rat
From:lavendersparkle
Date:January 23rd, 2009 04:07 pm (UTC)
48 minutes after journal entry, 05:07 pm (lavendersparkle's time)
(Link)
I don't mind Christians having our scripture as a holy scripture, if I did that we'd have to apologise to the Babylonians for the plagiarism in the Torah. However, there is something, I'm not sure of the right word, like being weighted down about living in a culture and in which different interpretations are prominent to the extent that the idea that the texts could be understood differently, doesn't even occur to most people.

It's even sadder when these dominant interpretations and their use to attack your religion actually put you off engaging with your own religious texts. I went to a talk at Limmud about the Jewish understanding of the parts of Isaiah which are interpreted by some Christians to prophesy Jesus. The speaker told us that she found that there's less Jewish scholarship on Isaiah than the other prophets because Jews have been scared off it by its use by Christians.

I also find it very irritating when secular/liberal Christians quote the the Torah to show how crazy the beliefs of conservative Christians are. The message tends to be "Leviticus says a lot of crazy stuff like not eating rabbit or shrimp, so it must be fine to be gay because it's all crap that no-one would ever take seriously or obey". There's an LJ icon to this effect which drives me up the wall.
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livredor: words
From:livredor
Date:January 23rd, 2009 04:17 pm (UTC)
58 minutes after journal entry, 05:17 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
No, I absolutely agree, and I think nextian (whom I don't know, but based on her essay) would agree too. The problem is not that our Tanakh got incorporated into Christian Scripture. The problem is not even that some Christians like having Seder celebrations to commemorate the Last Supper. The problem is that society in general isn't aware that Jews approach the Bible differently from how Christians do. It's definitely true that there are bits of the Bible we don't read because they're too "contaminated" by Christianity; you know how R Magonet made this project to reclaim our texts, doing things like putting the really scary bit of Isaiah, the Suffering Servant passage, into the Reform Machzor?

I hate that "homophobia is crap because Leviticus is crap" argument too. I have seen people arguing that if fundamentalist Christians are going to accept Leviticus they should do something about making sure people get paid for their labour the same day they perform it, which I like rather better. But still.
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redbird: default
From:redbird
Date:January 23rd, 2009 06:09 pm (UTC)
2 hours after journal entry, 02:09 pm (redbird's time)
(Link)
As I understand it, the idea behind "God hates shrimp" is part a deliberate poke at Fred Phelps and his hate group, and partly to argue that if someone is opposed to homosexuality because of that bit of Leviticus, they should also be opposed to eating shrimp. If they choose, personally, to forswear pork, shrimp, same-sex relationships, mixed fibers, or carrying things on the Sabbath, that's their business. Carrying money to a restaurant on the Sabbath and using it to buy a ham sandwich, and then arguing that homosexuality should be illegal, says to me that their reason for the last part isn't what's in the Torah.
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livredor: ewe
From:livredor
Date:January 23rd, 2009 10:42 pm (UTC)
7 hours after journal entry, 11:42 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
Yes, I can see that, the underlying message being, you're not Torah observant, so why suddenly get hung up on this one particular rule? It's just that sometimes I've seen it discussed with a tone of, wouldn't it be absolutely ludicrous if someone actually took all that Leviticus stuff seriously, I mean, whoever heard of a religion that wouldn't let you eat prawn cocktail?! There was a thread on Making Light like this at one point that I stopped reading because I felt really uncomfortable. And in the past when I've tried to step into ML discussions and say, hey, I know you don't mean it but that's not very respectful to my religion, I've got absolutely shredded by pnh. I'm not easily intimidated, but arguing with someone as skilfully sarcastic as he is, on a blog that he owns and where he has a massive fanbase, is not exactly an effective strategy.

I do understand that the people who make jokes about the stupid arbitrary rules in Leviticus are not intending to get at Jews, they're intending to get at homophobic fundamentalist Christians. But I don't enjoy the accidental implication that anyone who would actually take Leviticus seriously must be completely weird and think they live in the bronze age. Nor the other corollary that anyone who does keep Levitical rules must be homophobic. Sometimes it sounds a bit like the old Christian anti-Jewish stereotype that Jews are excessively legalistic and don't care about the spirit of the law or human decency at all. Long history of "Rabbinic" being an insult, you know?
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pw201: default
From:pw201
Date:January 23rd, 2009 06:17 pm (UTC)
2 hours after journal entry, 07:17 pm (pw201's time)
(Link)
I hate that "homophobia is crap because Leviticus is crap" argument too. I have seen people arguing that if fundamentalist Christians are going to accept Leviticus they should do something about making sure people get paid for their labour the same day they perform it, which I like rather better. But still.

I've always seen that argument ask being about consistency, not about how Leviticus is crap; the point is that if someone's saying godhatesfags and citing Lev as an authority, why don't they obey all of it? That argument never works anyway, because the people you're arguing with find reasons why they don't obey all of it: they start quoting Acts and Galatians and talking about the difference between ceremonial laws and moral laws (oddly, the distinction between these isn't spelt out, either in Lev or in the NT: perhaps what is needed is some sort of widely respected commentary?)
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livredor: words
From:livredor
Date:January 23rd, 2009 10:49 pm (UTC)
7 hours after journal entry, 11:49 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
It seems pretty clear to me that the whole "abomination" thing is a marker of things that are indeed ceremonial laws more than moral. It's true that Leviticus doesn't think that category division is important, but everything else that's described as "abomination" (this is yet another problem with relying on a translated Bible text!) is something that fairly obviously isn't immoral, just something that We Don't Do. Hence the shrimp example, and hence my preference for comparing some of the laws in the same chapter of Leviticus which unquestionably are moral, the ones which start with "don't oppress your fellow", and which neither the Christian nor the secular world is very good at. But yeah, Christians have direct NT prohibitions to deal with as well, it's not all about Leviticus for them.
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pw201: default
From:pw201
Date:January 24th, 2009 03:06 am (UTC)
11 hours after journal entry, 04:06 am (pw201's time)
(Link)
It seems pretty clear to me that the whole "abomination" thing is a marker of things that are indeed ceremonial laws more than moral.

Ah, right, thanks for pointing that out. I should have remembered this, because robhu linked to Wikipedia's take recently, which also mentions the problems of translation.

The NT books I mention are those which have passages dealing with the (at the time) vexed question of what Gentile converts to Christianity should do about the Jewish law. Typically people who do want to condemn homosexuality based on Leviticus will point to these NT books to explain why they're not also keeping all the other rules. However, even though that works as a defence of Christians eating shrimp, it sounds like the Leviticus passage may refer to something which is taboo rather than terribly immoral, so using it to say homosexuality is wrong is a category mistake.

You probably know this, but the NT is surprisingly unclear on homosexuality (surprising considering the amount of emotion in the debates on it, anyway): the sexual immorality Jesus really doesn't like is divorce and re-marriage, the stuff on homosexuality is Pauline. There's a lot of argument about the 2 or 3 NT passages which talk about something to do with homosexuality, with particular focus on working out what the Greek words mean (there's one where the Paul's use of the word is the earliest one we know about, which makes it hard, although it's a combination of two words used in the Septuagint of the relevant Leviticus passage, which some people find suggestive). ISTR my old church detoured around all that fascinating Greek geeking by arguing that homosexuality was against the created order in Genesis. Anyhoo, it seems likely to me that the apostles would have been against the homosexual activity of their day, because they had (1st century) Jewish sensibilities, but how that carries over to modern homosexual relationships which are a committed partnership of equals is another question.
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From:ex_robhu
Date:January 25th, 2009 08:47 pm (UTC)
2 days after journal entry
(Link)
Unclear?
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pw201: river what you think
From:pw201
Date:January 26th, 2009 02:09 am (UTC)
2 days after journal entry, 03:09 am (pw201's time)
(Link)
You bet. uk.religion.christian, being a group of Christians who like to argue about what the Bible says, does this to death every few years, rarely with anyone changing their mind, and I doubt livredor's journal would benefit from a repeat of the "H-word" debates.
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From:ex_robhu
Date:January 26th, 2009 07:23 pm (UTC)
3 days after journal entry
(Link)
Wow, people work pretty hard to pervert the meaning of the text, don't they? That all the bible translations say pretty much the same thing, that it matches the view of the church for thousands of years, and (as you mentioned) refers to the fact that under Christian thought the only type of appropriate 'married' relationship where sex is permitted is by marriage between a man and a woman, something affirmed by someone who know would know when he said "Haven't you read, that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female" seems to make a rather iron clad case here.

No ambiguity in sight. No matter how distressing it may be, or how much one might wish it said otherwise.
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cakmpls: default
From:cakmpls
Date:January 23rd, 2009 04:51 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 11:51 am (cakmpls's time)
(Link)
I don't think that it's always a matter of quoting the Torah "to show how crazy the beliefs of conservative Christians are," but sometimes rather to show how hypocritical those folks can be. They turn to the Torah for rules that they want, and ignore the ones they don't want. Or maybe it's more double-think than hypocrisy? The mindset seems to be that (in their beliefs) when Jesus fulfilled the Law, he kept the parts of the Torah that today's conservative Christians want, but not the rest of it. Gaaaaahhhhh.
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From:curious_reader
Date:January 25th, 2009 04:53 pm (UTC)
2 days after journal entry
(Link)
Exactly. Henry VIII. also did that. He wanted to get rid of his first wife and looked only on one law "a man who takes his brothers wife shall remain childless" and completely ignored that law that the brother is obliged to take his brothers widow if she was childless. One law talks about the situation when the brother is still alive and the other one when he is dead and the wife is a widow. This is what every film showed and all the clericals were as ignorant as him. They seemed not to know the Bible at all. Maybe it was like that at that time. Christians even those who called themselves bishop and so on took what they wanted and ignored the rest as they do nowadays, too.
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cakmpls: default
From:cakmpls
Date:January 23rd, 2009 04:54 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 11:54 am (cakmpls's time)
(Link)
Something else I meant to say: these folks claim to take the Bible "literally," but "I do not think that word means what [they] think it means."
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From:lyssiae
Date:January 23rd, 2009 04:51 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry
(Link)
"[A]ssuming Judaism is [was?] nothing but a precursor to Christianity...erases the Jews who are alive today..."

As a Christian who does indeed believe that pre-New Testament Judaism was entirely (saying "nothing but" suggests to me that the Messiah's coming wasn't really much to write home about) intended to point towards Christ, I would say that it casts a big question mark over Judaism as practised and followed since the birth of Christ. It doesn't erase the people - I mean, I've met you, and that was most definitely after the Incarnation, and you're a Jew - right?

Actually I would hold that Christians and the living of Christian values are in the minority today, especially in the Western world. Modern culture holds a whole load of tenets which go against Scripture and it takes an increasing amount of deep prayer, conviction, sheer guts and adherence to the Eucharist to be able to live that without being at best laughed at and at worst seeing what you call sacred desecrated (sad chap on You Tube, qv). The West has discarded its Christian roots, and the non-West, wanting to be as much like the West as possible, is skipping even developing any, going straight ahead to hedonism and a (twisted?) capitalism.

A side note about Western culture having Christian roots: I don't know why I call it "Christian" rather than "Judaeo-Christian", but I suspect it has to do with the way Christ talks about himself in relation to (albeit) the Law of Moses - that He came not to abolish it but to fulfil it. So I don't see much if anything "substantial" in Christian culture that I couldn't, time, money, intellect and a sufficient library notwithstanding, somehow trace back to a part of (pre-NT) Jewish culture.

All the above doesn't talk much about Judaism practised today. I suppose as a Christian I simply don't see the need to explore it (*suspects a charge of indignant and offended modern-day Jews will soon storm her house or something*).
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cakmpls: default
From:cakmpls
Date:January 23rd, 2009 04:58 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 11:58 am (cakmpls's time)
(Link)
The West has discarded its Christian roots,

"Christian roots" like the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome, for example?
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From:lyssiae
Date:January 23rd, 2009 08:04 pm (UTC)
4 hours after journal entry
(Link)
As I understand it, elements from those cultures certainly became Christianised, yes. I think I started reading a book about Platonism, or Neo-Platonism (I'm not great at reading Philosophy), and how a decent grasp of what that was actually all about was immensely helpful if not necessary in order to understand what many Patristic writings. But the idea that those notions were taken up as is, and not transformed at all, by Christian culture, is (I would hazard) wrong. Nor were they necessary for the spread of Christian culture per se - that is, the central truths of Christianity are independent of them.
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livredor: words
From:livredor
Date:January 23rd, 2009 11:04 pm (UTC)
7 hours after journal entry, January 24th, 2009 12:04 am (livredor's time)
(Link)
I take your point, and I don't think it's your beliefs which are at issue here. It's perfectly fine for you to think modern-day Jews are theologically wrong, and not to think very much about contemporary Jewish practice. That's a much more nuanced position than the kind of ignorant Christian (stereotypically an Evangelical Protestant from the rural parts of the US) who either thinks that Judaism hasn't changed at all since Jesus' time, or who thinks it's ok to use bits and pieces of modern Jewish ceremonies as part of their worship since Jesus was Jewish, not realizing that these developments happened well after the time of Jesus.

Cultural Christianity is a funny beast. I do very much agree that the world isn't living according to Christian morality or values. The thing is, from the point of view of an atheist (yes, you're perfectly entitled to believe that atheists are wrong), if you're a default post-Christian atheist, you can get along perfectly happily celebrating Christmas and enjoying art and literature with Biblical references and so on. That's not what Christianity is, but it is still a culture that feels comfortable for people from a Christian background. If you're Jewish, even if you're not even a tiny bit religious, and just as passionately atheist, Christmas is always a compromise, and you're still aware that some of this Christian based artistic tradition includes antisemitic / anti-Jewish concepts.

It's not that Christian-based calendars and art and so on are a bad thing, they're not at all, it's that assuming that this culture is the default culture, it's everybody's culture, is unhelpful to the minority groups to whom this doesn't apply. For you as a religious Catholic in a secular/Protestant context, you actually run into many of the same problems that Jews do.

I think you misunderstood me about Judeo-Christian. I completely agree that the term for our culture's origins is Christian, there's very little that's Judeo about it. Some people say Judeo-Christian to be PC or inclusive, but to me that term is offensive because it makes Judaism out to be a funny little sub-branch of Christianity, which is not in fact the case. So I strongly prefer you to say Christian when you mean Christian, and to avoid the term Judeo-Christian.

As a side note, it's probably better not to make jokes about offended Jews storming your house in this kind of context. You are not in fact in any physical danger if you express unpopular opinions about Jews, whereas even within living memory Jews have literally been faced with angry mobs storming their houses for having wrong beliefs.
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sonicdrift: default
From:sonicdrift
Date:February 9th, 2009 07:52 pm (UTC)
17 days after journal entry
(Link)
I'm not sure how you come by your "point of view of an atheist", but I think your making a fairly big assumption. Atheist's can't necessarily feel comfortable with Christian Culture. There's plenty of anti-stuff themes (women,sexuality etc) in Christianity (as well as other religions) to be uncomfortable with the culture/organisation behind a piece of art, even if appreciating the art itself. (Though, admittedly, some of the huge canvases of burning unbelievers I saw in Italy were still a relief after rooms and rooms of "Madonna and Child")

Although most of Christmas is fine as it's adopted from all over the place anyway, there is still a compromise between the religious aspects that you still associate with Christmas and remember from childhood, but represent something you don't morally agree with.
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midnightmelody: default
From:midnightmelody
Date:January 23rd, 2009 06:26 pm (UTC)
3 hours after journal entry, 07:26 pm (midnightmelody's time)
(Link)
My f-list has just played Snap! with posting about Judaism and cultural appropriation - so I shall point you at your counterpart in posting, who you may already know: here.
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livredor: teapot
From:livredor
Date:January 23rd, 2009 11:06 pm (UTC)
7 hours after journal entry, January 24th, 2009 12:06 am (livredor's time)
(Link)
Thank you, that's a fascinating link. I don't think I actually do know anotherusedpage, but yes, it's very pertinent to hear some viewpoints from people who are for one reason or another disconnected from their inherited cultures.
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(no subject) - monanotlisa (1/23/09 09:26 pm)
livredor: teapot
From:livredor
Date:January 23rd, 2009 11:10 pm (UTC)
7 hours after journal entry, January 24th, 2009 12:10 am (livredor's time)
(Link)
I think it's probably wise not to read the linked post. One of the problems with it is that it's assuming "Christian" to mean white, American, Protestant / Evangelical Christian. Now, this is the environment that nextian is immersed in, and she's trying not to blame Christians as such for the situation, but the post isn't very helpful for a reader who is, say, a European Catholic (or, as people pointed out in the comments, a non-conformist Christian or someone from one of the majority Black denominations.)
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friend_of_tofu: default
From:friend_of_tofu
Date:January 23rd, 2009 10:15 pm (UTC)
6 hours after journal entry
(Link)
Interesting. I may have to think about this more, because my default position is not to believe in "cultural appropriation". Really. I believe in colonialism, oppression, ignorance, etc etc, but CA as a separate thing? Not so much.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: ewe
From:livredor
Date:January 23rd, 2009 11:26 pm (UTC)
8 hours after journal entry, January 24th, 2009 12:26 am (livredor's time)
(Link)
Agreed. I am quite dubious about the idea of Cultural Appropriation, at least as anything but a sub-phenomenon of more general racism and colonialism. I think the major case where it does seem to be a real and separate issue is the treatment of indigenous cultures by colonizing cultures, such as Native Americans in the US, First Nations people in Canada, Maori people in New Zealand, Indigenous Australians, and Sami (Lapp) people in Scandinavia, which I happen to have learnt about recently. I think there does need to be a word for the process where a culture is nearly entirely wiped out by a colonizing power through both killing and forcible assimilation, and then the new hegemonic culture decides that the eliminated culture was all cute and romantic and spiritual and make commercialized, mass-produced versions of "typical" artefacts and tell fairy-stories about the destroyed traditions. It's a particular kind of revisionism, as well as being cruel to the remaining people who have some connection to that heritage. And I think maybe things analogous to that happen with some other colonized cultures, so there's a use for the term.

Notice that I'm not even slightly talking about fantasy novels set in "the mysterious east", or SF series where everybody in the crew comes from a different ethnicity as a cheap substitute for characterization. Those things are quite likely to be problematic, but the problem isn't cultural appropriation, and indeed it's possible to make good art set in a culture not the creator's own.
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friend_of_tofu: default
From:friend_of_tofu
Date:January 24th, 2009 12:28 am (UTC)
9 hours after journal entry
(Link)
I think there does need to be a word for the process where a culture is nearly entirely wiped out by a colonizing power through both killing and forcible assimilation, and then the new hegemonic culture decides that the eliminated culture was all cute and romantic and spiritual and make commercialized, mass-produced versions of "typical" artefacts and tell fairy-stories about the destroyed traditions.

That seems like a common enough expression of various forcible integrations throughout history and across the globe.

However, I will say that I think US experience of race and of cultural integration is very different form European in this regard, and is closest perhaps to Australian, in that during the colonial period, almost the only experience of non-white/non-European people was as subordinates/slaves/subhumans ie people lacking puissance in their own right. That really wasn't the case in Europe, even in terms of the African slave trade, because of the different way that Europeans interacted with other active, travelling cultures.

For that reason, I don't think a lot of US concepts about cultural integration and colonialism translate well.
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hatam_soferet: default
From:hatam_soferet
Date:January 25th, 2009 12:05 am (UTC)
1 days after journal entry
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This is obviously an awfully important sort of conversation to be having, not necessarily right now but certainly at some point, culture and religion and identity and such being as central as they are. So it bothers me a bit that I can't seem to get into it on an intelligent level; beyond "gosh," I'm not taking much in. :(
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