basics you need to know

Cultural appropriation in 1 minute

Cultural appropriation: you have probably heard a lot about it in the context of jewellery, but what is it, exactly? And what is the difference with cultural appreciation? I will address both in further articles, but this overview gives you the basics!

Cultural appropriation refers to the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of another culture without proper understanding, respect, or permission. It often involves an unequal power dynamic in which the appropriating culture has more power and privilege than the culture being appropriated, and it may result in the trivialization or misrepresentation of the appropriated culture and its elements.

Cultural appreciation refers to the respectful and informed understanding and engagement with elements of another culture. It involves learning about and gaining an understanding of the cultural context, history and significance of the elements in question, and being vocal about these. Appreciation can lead to a deeper understanding and respect for other cultures, and amplifying the voices of these cultures.

The main difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation is the context in which the elements of the culture are used, and the intent behind it. Cultural appropriation is often done with little regard for the culture being taken from, and is exploitative or disrespectful. Think fashion houses adopting styles or motifs without acknowledging, crediting and supporting the cultures they are traditionally used in. On the other hand, cultural appreciation is done with respect and understanding, and aimed at actively supporting the culture borrowed from.

Of course, the field of cultural appropriation is endlessly more complex than these three points. Check back to the Collector’s Handbook for regular additions focusing on jewellery from North Africa and Southwest Asia in particular!

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An excellent start to read more is this blog, or this one.

The Atlantic discussed the difference in this article

Sigrid van Roode

Sigrid van Roode is an archeologist, ethnographer and jewellery historian. She considers jewellery heritage and a historic source. She has authored several books on jewellery from North Africa and Southwest Asia, and on archaeological jewellery. Sigrid has lectured for the Society of Jewellery Historians, the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden and the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center, among many others. She curates exhibitions and teaches online courses on jewellery from North Africa & Southwest Asia.