The price of cultural appropriation

Investigation by Charlotte Groult
Summary

“I don’t believe in cultural appropriation. I’d go so far as to say that there should even be an award for doing so: the Appropriation Prize,1” is how Hal Niedzviecki opened his editorial for Write magazine, published in spring 2017 by the Writer’s Union of Canada. In only a few days, his statements sparked debate in the country’s press, and even beyond the Canadian literary scene. Cited and re-tweeted to exhaustion, the expression “cultural appropriation” is governed by a fluctuating and disturbing logic steeped in principles of property and legitimacy in art, and of imagination and free creativity. Critics of the concept believe that it agitates the spectrum of censorship and political correctness. And yet, because it inspires these very divisions, cultural appropriation also highlights the tensions running through a given society.