culturalappropriation   249

« earlier    

The Desi Instagram artist tackling cultural appropriation | Dazed
"Maria Qamar’s satirical art paints a harsh, and hilarious, reality of Asian culture – and it isn’t all bindi-wearing bliss

9 December 2015
Text: Nadia Husen

In a world of fast-growing multiculturalism, the line between appreciation and appropriation of cultures steadily blurs. As far back as 2003, Gwen Stefani donned a bindi in No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” music video, and stars have been following suit ever since. Both Selena Gomez and M.I.A have come under fire in recent times for cultural tourism in their music videos, the latter being forced to scrap hers altogether. In the mainstream, cultural appropriation is perhaps most obvious by the sheer number of bindi-adorned girls at music festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza. Asian, black, Native American and other marginalised groups are persistently having their cultures appropriated by those who feel entitled to it, thereby perpetuating a harmful power dynamic.

With everyone from actress Zendaya to fashion designer Dries Van Noten weighing in with an opinion, one self-defined ‘Desi artist’ (where Desi means a person of Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin who lives abroad) encompasses all aspects of her culture ­– not just the shiny, pretty sticker for your forehead. Born in Pakistan, Maria Qamar of @hatecopy moved to Canada as a child. A natural artist, she began to depict the realities of growing up in two cultures in pop art and posted the results on her Instagram, rapidly gaining a following as other Desi women – myself included – identify with her bittersweet truths. I spoke to Maria to discuss her witty and provocative art ahead of her second exhibit, Shame Shame, in Toronto.

How did you first start drawing your pieces?

Maria Qamar: I actually had to hide the fact I was doing it. After I drew my first piece, ‘Burnt the Rotis’, I told my mother, ‘Oh, you know those drawings I was making at home, and you were asking what I was doing? OK, well I’m painting them now and the job search is going great too.’ But now my mum is getting very bold and savvy; she wants me to make this a full-time business.

So why did you choose pop art as your artistic style? Have you always drawn in that style?

Maria Qamar: Not really. A lot of it was testing the waters of different styles. It was kind of a long process getting to where I am now. And then more recently it was all about finding the style – ­that took my whole life. I didn’t actually know that this style I already drew was very similar to pop art, so I’m very comfortable drawing it.

It seems to be a very organic process, then?

Maria Qamar: Yeah, I can honestly draw in that way so I’m more comfortable drawing my ideas into the pop-art scenario than I would be (doing it in a) realist or abstract (way). I think of something that’s not Desi-related, an easily imagined scenario. I usually draw the characters first, and then I think about what they could be thinking at the time.

“We’re overshadowed by tradition and obligation and things that we can’t relate to because we’re not in it” – Maria Qamar

There are so many women and girls relating to your art because it’s very real to them as well as humorous. With all the recent focus in the media on cultural appropriation, what made you decide to hit back with your “Is This Gori Wearing a Bindi Again?!” piece? (‘Gori’ is a word used by Indians to describe white girls.)

Maria Qamar: As I said, I draw the images first, and then think about what to write. In this case it had to be something that puts them on the spot. It’s like, ‘Are you fucking kidding me?’ I got fucking angry.

Your Instagram seems to be a space of community because it unites people who share similar experiences, such as the understanding that fairer skin is more valued in Asian culture, and the pressure to marry. These are the things you have to live through to really understand.

Maria Qamar: It is really funny, because the whole point of this pop-art Indian thing was so that I could take the most American – the most western thing – I could find, which were American romance comics or novels. I wanted to take the most iconic thing, which is the soap opera, and blend them together. Right now it feels like I’m taking their shit and throwing it back at them, saying, ‘Here it is, you made this. This is all you.’

Is anyone offended by your art?

Maria Qamar: A few people have been offended by me more than the work itself because they know I was born in Pakistan and they have their own opinions of what they think I might be. So they bring in factors that have nothing to do with the work. They look for a divide. ‘Well, OK,’ I say. ‘Look, it’s doing well. I’m making work that I really love. What’s wrong with it really?’ People are always looking for a fight, so my response to those things is that it’s Desi art. I don’t have an agenda. You relate to it, you laugh at it, and people love it.

Some of the topics you discuss in your art are more taboo, particularly in Asian culture. Your piece for marriage equality entitled ‘Uncle Pride’, for example, would certainly be considered forbidden by traditional types. Why do you choose to portray such messages?

Maria Qamar: Because I’m not like that. I’m not like that and I exist and I’m doing OK. It wasn’t ever supposed to be a rebellious thing, which is the concept of the show as well. I’m not trying to be rebellious for the sake of being rebellious and to piss everybody off and step on the toes of my family. It’s just that people exist differently in the west. We just do. We’re raised just like Americans or what-have-you in the west, but we’re overshadowed by tradition and obligation and things that we can’t relate to because we’re not in it. We don’t know. Yeah, we’re going to go out and hold hands with a guy or make out in public because these things are allowed here, and that’s all we know. It’s funny that it’s seen as rebellious, and, yes, I have a feeling that what I’m making might be a little bit offensive, with my parents in my head going, ‘Shame, shame, shame, you shouldn’t be doing this.’ But you know, why not? I just let it simmer, and the people who laugh with me, laugh with me.

So the art is very much as personal as it is public?

Maria Qamar: Yes, you get a taste of like Desi-American or Desi-Canadian culture – any Desis who are not living in India – because it’s just like somebody who’s from a place where if you’re caught kissing your husband, you could go to jail. So for somebody looking at the Instagram from there and seeing me do what I do, that would be like, ‘Oh my God, that’s crazy,’ but that’s the norm here. We’re all just out in the open. We’re all cool about it."
culturalappropriation  nadiahusen  mariaqamar  appropriation  culture  2015  desi  multiculturalism  culturaltourism  mia  zendaya  driesvannoten  selenagomez  gwenstefani  nodoubt  marginalization  power  colonialism 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
Opinion | Finding the Beauty in Cultural Appropriation - The New York Times
"“What beautiful cultural appropriation!”

I turned in my seat to look at the fashion editor nodding in approval next to me at Lagos Fashion Week.

By that point, I had seen fashion shows in nearly a dozen countries, and I was used to hearing the term “cultural appropriation” whispered around a runway. In Japan I saw Maasai necklaces paired with cargo shorts; in Namibia I saw models in geisha makeup with chopsticks in their hair; and of course, I’ve seen hundreds of European designers “elevating” African-American street fashion.

But this was the first time I’d heard it used as a compliment.

According to Mary Edoro, the editor of BellaNaija, a fashion publication based in Lagos, Nigeria, we were seeing the appropriation of traditional clothing — Calabar fabrics from southeast Nigeria and red ivie beads from the north — from rural communities once considered out of step in modern Nigeria. But in the past decade, integrating them into high fashion has become a source of pride.

“People did not appreciate these old fabrics and designs,” Ms. Edoro told me. “Cultural appropriation, when done in a good way, makes us appreciate things we might typically ignore.”

I’ve spent the past few years traveling around the world to investigate fashion subcultures. I’ve met Japanese women who dress as 1990s Mexican-Americans from East Los Angeles, white women in cornrows at Jamaican dance halls and African-Americans who call ankara cloth, popular in West Africa, “tribal prints.” Through it all, I’ve come to believe that the impulse to play dress-up in other people’s cultures goes beyond teenagers wearing qipaos to prom, or Coachella girls in feathered headdresses. It’s an impulse that is nearly universal.

In other words, cultural appropriation might cause outrage, but it will not stop. And so the question is why? What do people get out of adopting aesthetics from other cultures? Through my travels, I’ve come to see appropriation as a form of communication: Sometimes what people are trying to say is trivial, hurtful and condescending — a bindi to proclaim that they’re “exotic” for instance, or cornrows to say they’re “cool.” But other times, what is being said is difficult and important.

Last October, I interviewed a Japanese rapper named Mona who’s a self-described “chola,” a member of an urban Mexican-American subculture. Part of it was that she liked the look: bold makeup, hoop earrings.

But Mona’s experimentation coincided with her rebellion against how Japanese society shamed her for her outspokenness. In movies like “Selena” and “Mi Vida Loca,” she saw kindred spirits: women celebrated, not ostracized, for their aggression. Some of what Mona did made me cringe: She used gang symbols without the accompanying realities of gang life; she wore rosaries though she is not religious. And yet cholo culture gave her a way to act, speak and dress — all to communicate that she does not agree with how her own culture insists Japanese women should be.

Or consider the rise of Afropunk style. Among my black American friends and peers, Afropunk — which originated at a Brooklyn music festival celebrating black artists and has expanded around the world — has become a crucial cultural outlet. At its heart is a sense of rebellion against the realities of a racist world. That rebellion manifests in glorious, creative outfits that riff on centuries-old aesthetic legacies from Africa, beloved cultural traditions among African-American communities and a fantastical, futuristic sensibility.

These outfits are also, according to some Africans, inadvertently disrespectful. In Nigeria, I spoke to a stylist who mentioned that Afropunk style — which can mix Kenyan kitenge cloth with Bini coral beads and an Egyptian cobra headband — was one way that the African diaspora has betrayed African people, since it flattens so many individual ethnic communities into one Pan-African look. But, he also told me, he doesn’t begrudge this. He’s connected to a rich variety of African cultures. He recognizes that many black Americans aren’t.

When I asked the Harlem-based costume designer Delta Major about her mix-and-match approach to Afropunk fashion, she told me that she understood her clothing to be appropriation. She knew it wasn’t “authentically African” and so was, in a sense, disrespectful. But “getting it right” wasn’t the point. Her history was stolen from her; she doesn’t know where her family came from, and the purposeful inauthenticity made that very statement.

On some level, it doesn’t feel right to call what Afropunk attendees and Japanese cholas do “cultural appropriation.” The power dynamics at work are complicated; it’s unproductive to argue whether black Americans or Africans — or cholas and ostracized Japanese women — have more or less power, and whether one has contributed to the other’s oppression, the way we do when we talk about white Americans appropriating from marginalized groups. We reach for concepts like cultural appreciation and globalization to take into account that these forms of exchange might be less hurtful, or more thoughtful, even if there’s still harm and ignorance at play.

But of course, it is appropriation. These groups, in different ways, are adorning themselves with symbols from another culture and wearing them for their own purposes.

Now, contrast this appropriation with those notorious headdresses. No one except the most willfully obstinate would defend wearing a war bonnet to Coachella. But I’d argue that’s not only because the object is sacred, and the power dynamic direct and unjust, but also because the intended message — that you’re a free spirit, if only for a weekend — is uninteresting. It contains nothing significant to justify something so obviously hurtful.

Things like power, authenticity, respectfulness and credit are all important considerations to weigh against the damage that’s inherent in cultural appropriation. It’s also crucial to understand the maddening reality for many marginalized American groups whose money, livelihoods and creations are regularly stolen from them. But these litmus tests are not adequate by themselves.

We know because when we’re confronted with more complex messages and muddled power dynamics, we short-circuit. We don’t know what to do, or how to feel. We don’t know who the victims are, or what the crime exactly is — even if feels as if there might be one.

In the end, determining when cultural appropriation is O.K. can feel as if it requires a delicate calculus, more holistic than binary. It’s understandable that as a result, we’ve landed on treating cultural appropriation as a bad habit to be trained out of us; often it feels easier not to engage at all. But this balancing act is worth performing. Because the bad-habit model is not only exhausting; the result is often that people are so afraid of appearing “bad” that they self-censor good-faith impulses to try something new. Ironically, in doing so, they learn less about other cultures.

Reframing fashion-based cultural appropriation not as a bad habit but as a discussion of ideas helps make these calculations easier. We understand how ideas work: Sometimes they’re unnecessarily offensive, and sometimes they’re offensive because they need to be. Sometimes the controversy they generate is silly and piddling; other times, it’s enlightening. As my seatmate in Lagos told me, it can help us see something we would have otherwise missed.

And yes — it can be beautiful too."

[See also:
"In Defense of Cultural Appropriation" by Kenan Malik (2017)
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/14/opinion/in-defense-of-cultural-appropriation.html

"What Distinguishes Cultural Exchange from Cultural Appropriation?" by Rivka Galchen with Anna Holmes (2017)
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/08/books/review/bookends-cultural-appropriation.html ]
conniewang  appropriation  culture  culturalappropriation  2019  powr  authenticity  respect  respectfulness  powerdynamics  fashion  japan  gender  race  ethnicity  afropunk  coachella  kenanmalik  annaholmes  rivkagalchen  culturalexchange 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
Twitter
RT : In addition to the four lectures, the Master Class also includes a Q&A on whe…
Worldbuilding  CulturalAppropriation  from twitter
december 2018 by angelajames
On NBC, Megyn Kelly Does as Megyn Kelly Has Always Done - The New York Times
It is, at heart, the reaction of people who didn’t have to think much about sharing the world with people different from them. They were never asked to learn much about those other people, or consider how their actions and speech and “harmless” entertainment might exclude or hurt them. Now people like Kelly are being asked to learn. And they’re puzzled, or irritated, or downright angry about it.
whitepeople  halloween  blackface  culturalappropriation 
october 2018 by kme
Sarah Jeong and the N.Y. Times: When Racism Is Fit to Print
But the alternative view — that of today’s political left — is that Jeong definitionally cannot be racist, because she’s both a woman and a racial minority. Racism against whites, in this neo-Marxist view, just “isn’t a thing” — just as misandry literally cannot exist at all. And this is because, in this paradigm, racism has nothing to do with a person’s willingness to pre-judge people by the color of their skin, or to make broad, ugly generalizations about whole groups of people, based on hoary stereotypes. Rather, racism is entirely institutional and systemic, a function of power, and therefore it can only be expressed by the powerful — i.e., primarily white, straight men. For a nonwhite female, like Sarah Jeong, it is simply impossible. In the religion of social constructionism, Jeong, by virtue of being an Asian woman, is one of the elect, incapable of the sin of racism or group prejudice. All she is doing is resisting whiteness and maleness, which indeed require resistance every second of the day.
culturalAppropriation  marxism  racism  intersectionality  NYT  neoMarxism 
august 2018 by Jswindle
Cultural Appropriation and the Children of ‘Shōgun’
During much of the twentieth century, white American authors produced some excellent novels featuring Native American characters. The list includes masterpieces such as Oliver La Farge’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Laughing Boy (1929) and Scott O’Dell’s Newbery Medal-winning Island of the Blue Dolphins (1960). Other prominent titles in the genre include Thomas Berger’s 1964 novel Little Big Man (subsequently adapted into a film starring Dustin Hoffman and Faye Dunaway directed by Arthur Penn), Margaret Craven’s I Heard the Owl Call My Name (1967), and Douglas C. Jones’s A Creek Called Wounded Knee (1978).

But the production of such novels has dwindled markedly over the last 40 years or so. This probably has something to do with what happened to Ruth Beebe Hill after the publication of her 1978 novel Hanta Yo. The early reviews of the book were positive. A reviewer for the Harvard Crimson called Hanta Yo “the best researched novel yet written about an American Indian tribe.” Native American author N. Scott Momaday, author of House Made of Dawn, admired the book. David Wolper, the producer of the landmark TV miniseries Roots purchased the film rights to Hanta Yo and planned to give it the same treatment as Roots. Alas, before Wolper could put his plan into action, the book began drawing criticism from Native American groups contending that it was an inaccurate portrayal of the Sioux. A 1980 article in People magazine summarized the controversy like this:

A $2 million class-action suit, filed on behalf of the Sioux people, claims that Hill’s sweeping novel set at the turn of the eighteenth century is demeaning to the Plains Indians. The litigation seeks further to block production of any TV show based on Hanta Yo. Sioux activists have also tried to force the work out of bookstores and libraries and have picketed the author on the lecture circuit, waving signs like HILL HAS A TONTO COMPLEX.

Hill strongly defended her book against the attacks. The article in People points out that she spent nearly 30 years researching the novel and consulted more 700 Indians during that period. Nonetheless, the damage was done. The TV miniseries was never made and the book soon drifted out of print. Although Hill lived to be 102, she would never write another novel. No other white novelist has published a novel about American Indian life anywhere near as ambitious as Hanta Yo in the years since. No doubt the fear of being publicly shamed for ‘cultural appropriation’ has had something to do with it.

More recently, author Laura Moriarty triggered a firestorm when she included an American Muslim character in her young-adult novel American Heart (2018). Because the book’s main character was a white girl, Moriarty was accused of exploiting a ‘white savior’ narrative. According to Ruth Graham of Slate magazine, even before the book was published, it had…

…already attracted the ire of the fierce group of online YA readers that journalist Kat Rosenfield has referred to as ‘culture cops.’ To them, it was an irredeemable problem that Moriarty’s novel, which was inspired in part by Huckleberry Finn, centers on a white teenager who gradually—too gradually—comes to terms with the racism around her. On Goodreads, the book’s top ‘community review,’ posted in September, begins, “fuck your white savior narratives”; other early commenters on Goodreads accused Moriarty of “profiting off people’s pain” and said “a white writer should not have tackled this story, and neither should a white character be the center of it.”

The outcry surrounding Moriarty’s book was so intense that Kirkus took the unprecedented step of removing a positive review of American Heart from its website, even though the review had been written by a Muslim woman who is an authority on young-adult literature.

In the midst of such a cultural moment, few white writers are likely to undertake the tremendous amount of research required to produce a book like Shōgun or Shanghai or Jade knowing that a hostile reception will almost certainly be awaiting them and their novel when (and if) it finally sees the light of day. If you haven’t yet experienced the joys of exploring ‘The Children of Shogun,’ a great literary pleasure still awaits you. But read slowly and linger over each book. No more than a few dozen excellent examples were ever published. And no new titles are likely to appear in the foreseeable future, if Celeste Ng and her ilk have their way.


Link: https://quillette.com/2018/07/30/cultural-appropriation-and-the-children-of-shogun/
CulturalAppropriation  nct  ncpin  Literature  DGNI 
july 2018 by walt74

« earlier    

related tags

2015  2017  2018  2019  accent  afropunk  alisonuncles  america  animatedgifs  animation  annaholmes  annemarieowens  appropriation  archaeology  art  asian-american  asianamerica  asians  australia  authenticity  badgyal(singer)  beyonce  blackculture  blackface  blackgirlmagic  blackness  books  brendanoneill  brunei-articles  by:binashah  by:joshualuna  by:josiepickens  by:kellykanayama  by:laurenmichelejackson  by:lilashapiro  by:maishazjohnson  by:scaachikoul  by:yassminabdelmagied  capitalism  characterdevelopment  christieblatchford  cincodemayo  class  clothing  coachella  collectiveguilt  colonialism  columbussyndrome  comic  comidamexicana  conniewang  copyright  crazyrichasians  criticalwhiteness  cultural  culturalexchange  culturaltourism  culture  dance  db  dc:creator=sarkarash  dctagged  definitions  desi  dgni  digitalblackface  diversearts  diversebooks  diversity  diversityrules  dreadlocks  driesvannoten  essay  ethnicity  explained  fashion  feminism  fiction  filipinoamericans  film  fitness  food  fortnitehula  from:buzzfeed  from:ebony  from:everydayfeminism  from:mediadiversified  gelernter  gender  geo:canada  georgewill  gif  guiltbyassociation  gustavoarellano  gwenstefani  halloween  halniedzviecki  harrypotter  hawaii  hawaiianculture  henna  history  hollywood  hypocrisy  i-d  illiberalleft  indigenousculture  influencer  innovation  internetting  intersectionality  irish  japan  jazz  jkrowling  keiradrake  kenanmalik  kenwhyte  kimchi  kkk  language  left  linguistics  lionelshriver  literature  locs  lol  macdonald  malaysia  maori  marginalization  mariaqamar  marxism  mehndi  meme  memes  mestizaje  mexican  mexico  mia  migration  military  mobilevideo  multiculturalism  music  musicfeatures  nadiahusen  nativeamericans  ncpin  nct  neomarxism  newzealand  nodoubt  nyt  nytimes  nytimesmag  patentpolicy  perspective  philippines  photography  platform:twitter  poetry  politicalcorrection  politicalcorrectness  politicallycorrect  politics  popculture  power  powerdynamics  powr  profiteering  progressivism  protest  publishing  quillette  race  racism  racist  reggaemusic  representation  respect  respectfulness  restaurants  review  rivkagalchen  scottfeschuk  selenagomez  sfsu  sjw  slavery  socialmedia  society  spanishpeople  spooky  steveladurantaye  stevemaich  tacobell  taylorswift  tejucole  theft  theoutline  therootlive  threads  twitter  villainy  vine  wealthinequality  whiteness  whitepeople  whiteprivilege  whitewashing  worldbuilding  writing  yoga  zendaya 

Copy this bookmark:



description:


tags: