Cultural Appropriation: Yours, mine, theirs or a new intercultural?

by Deepsikha Chatterjee


“This article considers how by shifting culturally anchored design materials from one context to simplistic placement in decontextualized settings, cultural appropriation takes place in costume design. Building on that, it discusses how production teams need to be cognizant of such issues in the design process given that availability of such materials has historically been possible because acquisition has often aligned with political and commercial ambitions. Reviewing scholarship on appropriation that includes performance, costume, fashion and cultural studies, it questions how designing costumes through intercultural interaction might be navigated in a globalized context, where artists are excluded through travel bans, but cultural materials are permitted free movement. The article then discusses how to create productive intercultural projects with teams willing to invest in ethical engagement. By including case studies in which such processes were less successful as well as one that indeed created new intercultural exchanges, this article is one of the first texts to address this complex issue. It intends to engender future forward thinking conversations with practitioners and researchers on the thorny but urgent issue of cultural appropriation through costume.”

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