It seems to me that there are many instances which many of us can observe and recognize as being instances of cultural appropriation. But one area which I find difficult is that doing so requires first being able to say what a person’s default culture is in the first place. That would appear to indicate what cultural expressions they might be entitled to, versus which one they are not. This is an area which I never see addressed - how do you know what culture is even yours?
Here’s an anecdote with some speculation: I have been involved in tantras and yoga for some years, which could definitely be considered appropriation of the culture of India. But, unlike some other appropriations I hear about, many in India actively promote yoga, and consider it a mission to spread the practice. OTOH as a USian I am often (quietly) critical of the local interpretations of yoga, I think that the traditions get perverted in some ways.
Many years ago, somebody had asked me what my religious outlook was, and I said that it was probably what they would call “Hinduism”, and my friend complained that I was not entitled to that culture. Giving them benefit of doubt, the obvious question was then, “So how could we establish what religion I am entitled to?” And we never were able to answer that question. Adding yet another layer of complexity is that tantras often overlap the areas between Hinduism and Buddhism - so either of those groups’ orthodoxies could complain that they are being appropriated by the other. It also makes it hard in a US context to say what my religion is, because in the US this an institutional concern with regards to formal membership in a church, whereas in Asia this is often seen as informal folk-religion, or teachings passed one-on-one with no real institutions - except for some of the larger groups.
So, for a person in the US, is it more likely appropriation to practice the traditions indigenous to the Americas, or to import them from another continent entirely? The Quinnipiac traditions are at least local, so that makes them seem like an obvious choice. But there seem to be hegemonic layers to this which are really inconsistent. Locals don’t seem to treat practicing Christianity as appropriation even though it is from the Levant thousands of miles away. If Christian traditions are fair game, brought from the east through Rome and Germany to the US, then would the gods of ancient Rome be more or less an appropriation? Perhaps this seems sophomoric to those who were socialized into these traditions, but it can be genuinely puzzling to those who were not.
This all even became a factor in my having lost my previous job, where people alluded to having found and been scared by Sanskrit books in my office, which they found while snooping around to collect dirt on me. Suddenly I was getting confronted with a lot of complaints about working with Muslims “and other stuff like that”, which suggested that I was being subject to Islamaphobic discrimination even though I was much further from Muslim tradition than they themselves were. So then I am getting subtley getting associated with yet another culture.
It all gets me wondering about whether or not the Global Village has gatekeepers. I was a McLuhan baby, growing up reading about and socializing to “all times and places coexisting in a media environment”, and I wonder to what extent the technologies of communication and human symbology have influence versus hierarchies of social structure. It suggests to me that many apparent consensuses might be to some extent unreal or imposed, that it is easy to grow up a “foreigner” in your own region. How do you know what your own culture even is?