starlady: (justice)
I was reading this Threadbared post by Mimi Thi Nguyen on cultural appropriation and came across the following:

[Coco] Fusco also tackles the divide that assigns creativity to acts of appropriation of “exotic” or “other” cultural forms performed by privileged persons, and simultaneously decries as derivative those acts of parody, recycling, creolization, and adaptation of imposed cultural forms performed by non-privileged persons. In this troubling formulation, she argues, the privileged person is granted a sense of self-making or creative agency, while the non-privileged person is either a mimic or tragically “unnatural” and “inauthentic.”

Given the Diana-Gabaldon-hates-fanfic brouhaha that has the interwebz riveted, my thoughts immediately went to these posts: [personal profile] bookshop on the fannish, non-profit economy and [personal profile] sheafrotherdon's Stones. Glass Houses. News at 11.

That said, I absolutely, absolutely don't want to somehow give the impression that I am conflating the low status of fanfic in some but not all pro-writer circles with cultural appropriation, because I am not: they are completely different (..."issues" seems too small a word for cultural appropriation...) phenomena, the groups affected by each are for the most part not the same, and what's at stake in each is not commensurate (there are differences of scale worth nothing here too). But the potential applicability of Fusco's observations as formulated by Nguyen about the one to the other is striking to me nonetheless; the mechanisms seem to operate similarly. I am going to quote Nguyen quoting Fusco in closing, and add her books to my list, because she very clearly has a good idea about the proper response:

What is at stake in the defensive reactions to appropriation is the call to cease fetishizing the gesture of crossing as inherently transgressive, so that we can develop a language that accounts for who is crossing, and that can analyze the significance of each act. Unless we have an interpretative vocabulary that can distinguish among the expropriative gestures of the subaltern, the coercive strategies that colonizers levy against the colonized, and dominant cultural appropriative acts of commodification of marginalized cultures, we run the perpetual risk of treating appropriation as if the act itself had some existence prior to its manifestations in a world that remains, despite globalism, the information highway, and civil rights movements, pitifully undemocratic in the distribution of cultural goods and wealth. (77)

P.S. Threadbared is an academic blog on "beauty" and "fashion". Whoever thinks those are just women's stuff, and/or inherently less valuable, is missing out on some breathtakingly good thinking.
starlady: the OTW logo with text "fandom is my fandom" (fandom^2)
In other words, the still-pervasive notion that folktales, especially fairy tales, are primarily "kids' stuff" owes a great deal to 19th-century racism, classism, and religious bigotry.

Endemic to this line of theorizing is the assumption that the folklorist, the one collecting and interpreting folklore, is not of the folk: the folk are always the Other. Traditional folklorists were educated bourgeois outsiders who traveled to rural areas in their own lands—or, better yet, foreign locales—since one cannot find folklore among one's own group, because only "they" have folklore—"we" have Culture (Toelken 1979, 3–7, 265). This did not change until Alan Dundes redefined the folk as "any group of people whatsoever who share at least one common factor" (Dundes 1965, 2)—thus including everyone, including educated bourgeois folklorists, in the category of the "folk." […] [note 7]

note 7: This distinction between the "folk" and the "not-folk"—as well as the revision of these definitions—is of obvious relevance to fandom studies. Fans have traditionally been figured as the Other, responding in unofficial and often "bizarre" ways to the official culture industry. The rise of the "aca-fan" as a category has gone a long way toward dispensing with these problematic assumptions.
--Catherine Tosenberger, "Kinda Like the Folklore of Its Day: Supernatural, fairy tales, and ostension"
(Transformative Works and Cultures, vol. 4, 2.6-7)
It's not that this is news, necessarily, but I do like it when people are able to synthesize so cogently and pointedly. And in the next paragraph there are some very perceptive comments on class (and folklore) in The X-Files. Oh, TWC, I ♥ you.
starlady: Kazuhiko & Suu landing (fly)

Ohtsuka Eiji, an editor, critic, and writer, poses the question bluntly: why do so many Americans see Miyazaki's films as distinctively Japanese, as receptacles of Japanese values, when they are so clearly globally targeted entertainments? The answer is Orientalist habits of thought whereby the identity of the subject is formed by projecting unitary difference onto the Other, which Ueno Toshiya has referred to as techno-orientalism in the context of anime reception.

I'm particularly appreciating Lamarre's insistence that manga and anime studies stop investigating works for what they say about Japan, which quickly becomes tautological, but instead look at how they say it, look at what they say about living in the world, period. It's definitely something I know that I need to bear in mind.

Also, I like that that one sentence gets at what's wrong, period, with Orientalism in general and "Victorientalism" in particular--flattening differences that a) exist and b) ought not be flattened so as to, essentially, puff up the ego of the orientalist by furnishing them an entirely false sense of the world's simplicity and their superiority. At the same time it renders people and cultures into things, objects to be consumed, which is equally wrong, wrong, wrong.

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