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> Cultural Thieft, what is it and can it exist
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John Clements 
Posted: 17-Jan-2008, 10:03 AM
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QUOTE (thecelticgiraffe @ 17-Jan-2008, 07:29 AM)
Cultural Theft is really just when someone is a "wannabe" because they admire a particular culture. They try to do things that culture does or wear the styles they wear, etc., even though they are not part of that culture, but simply like it and want to act like they are a part of it.

"Cultural Theft" seems to be used mostly within the context of Native American "wannabes". But it can apply to any cultural "wannabe". Loads of profit are being made by giving into the desires of a lot of "wannabes". Witness the selling of supposed "traditional" Native American products or Irish products, so that those who buy can feel they are part of the culture.

Many people actually get carried away literally trying their best to prove they have certain blood lines which they don't. Any hint that they may have the blood line of a certain culture and right away they are celebrating new holidays, buying traditional clothing, eating the food, etc. as if they grew up in that culture! Luckily this usually fades away and they eventually return to normal (or not).

It is a good thing to enjoy another culture and maybe participate in some of the things they do as an educated observer. This is how you build strong human relations with other cultures and also learn how they think, as well as have fun. But to get carried way into thinking you are one of them and attempting to prove the dream a reality, is trying to steal an identity that you are not.

I agree with you definition of Cultural Theft, but doesnít religion play a big part in ones culture? And if so, wouldnít plagiarizing the greatest story ever told, from another culture, constitute theft?


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oldraven 
Posted: 17-Jan-2008, 12:38 PM
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Well, not really. The ideologies weren't stolen. In fact, this film claims that the people were already living by these ideologies (The Hebrews would no doubt have picked up a lot of the beliefs of current Egypt while enslaved). Moses was raised as an Egyptian, so that really was his culture. The claim here is that they took their beliefs and personalised or humanised them, then surrounded these characters with stories outlining doctrines. That's not theft. It's retelling a story in a new genre.


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Sekhmet 
Posted: 17-Jan-2008, 02:40 PM
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I'm going to remind all involved in this conversation (or lurking and reading it), that this is to remain civil and polite. This isn't the politics forum, gang. Put the gloves back on or transfer the conversation over to the proper forum.


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Antwn 
Posted: 17-Jan-2008, 03:04 PM
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First you're never going to stop cultural intermingling or even plagerism. The only way you will is to isolate every culture completely. So long as you have close cultural interaction you're going to have mixing of cultures. Indeed, new cultural expressions are often born from just this kind of interaction. Flamenco music mixes elements of Arabic, Gypsy, Jewish musical expressions to create a unique form which now has a 500 year tradition for example. Even the language we're using to talk about this mixes Germanic, Latin, Greek, French and according to some of the latest linguistic theory Semitic influence.

Of course this isn't the same as the rip offs that Swanny is talking about, where new age white people make a quick buck off a smattering of exposure to native religions and claiming authenticity because a 2nd cousin once removed's great grandmother was 1/124th Cherokee.

Is there such a thing as cultural theft, sure. When is plagerism the sincerest form of flattery and when is it exploitation? Perhaps the answer lies in the intent.



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Sekhmet 
Posted: 17-Jan-2008, 03:09 PM
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The bottom line is, all cultures borrow from others with which they have come in contact. That's human nature. That is people having a drive and need for novelty and innovation. And some cultures exert such an influence over another that they "flip" the other. This bleeds into the language, religion, material culture, the whole nine yards. It's the way of the world, and it's far from anything new.

Cultural "theft" comes when this exertion is observed by the originating culture, and is resented. Key word there is *resented*. When only certain, appealing aspects of ceremony, tradition, dress, etc. is taken and the rest left behind, it is "bastardized". It is a "ripoff". It is viewed as shallow. And they have a legitimate gripe, frankly, particularly when someone presents a concept and portions of another culture for profit, not for teaching or others' enrichment. But it's not going to stop it. And many positive things can come from it.

I've seen this in more places than I care to think about. In the bellydancing community, this is rabid. In the Celtic communities, it's everywhere. In the Pagan communities, this comes up quite often. Ditto Native American.

My clan mother taught me that we do not give the ceremonies and traditions over lightly, and not to the unworthy. When one takes just the aspects that the person likes and fills it in with what they feel *should* be in there instead, then it's irrevocably changed. And if they are quizzed about where they got these newfangled ideas and ceremonies, they point back to those who originally taught them something completely different by this point. Now not only are this person's teachings brought into question, but those who taught him.

That said, there are forever changes to a culture, much of which is totally unintentional. Someone forgets one part and thinks it might be this, so they roll with it. Those not knowing any better pick it up and pass it on. And on and on. It's the way of humans and the way of the world.

Ok, off the soap box for me. Y'all behave, got me? wink.gif
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stoirmeil 
Posted: 17-Jan-2008, 03:21 PM
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OK. Sekhmet is right. I seem to have gotten my friend JC riled by posting that review, so let me try to get it right.

Posting this particular review was just an attempt to get at some detail as to content, in response to Swanny's request; there were several like it. I have tried to open the link to the actual film and failed, so I did want to see the thing itself. I'm assuming that the relevant part for the cultural theft idea is the Akh-en-aton monotheism that prefigured Judaism. This is not news -- I heard about it as an undergrad in the late sixties, and one of the sources was Moses and Monotheism (Freud), writen well before 1940.

Imitation is not cultural theft -- cultures can't be stolen, but behaviors can be and often are copied and then modifed to make sense in their new settings. Cultural plagiarism is possible, I think -- if you lift certain elements of a complex cultural expression without considering how the whole thing works, and then claim it as original. But since the same human tropes get interpreted over and over and modified for culture after culture, it's hardly feasible that real plagiarism would go undetected. I do agree that anything that claims to be original, and the one and only path, is suspicious.
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John Clements 
Posted: 17-Jan-2008, 03:37 PM
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QUOTE (oldraven @ 17-Jan-2008, 12:38 PM)
Well, not really. The ideologies weren't stolen. In fact, this film claims that the people were already living by these ideologies (The Hebrews would no doubt have picked up a lot of the beliefs of current Egypt while enslaved). Moses was raised as an Egyptian, so that really was his culture. The claim here is that they took their beliefs and personalised or humanised them, then surrounded these characters with stories outlining doctrines. That's not theft. It's retelling a story in a new genre.

Now that may well be true, and Iím not a lawyer, but having seen the movie. It appears to me that the Egyptians have a strong ďCopy RightĒ infringement case! So let me ask again. Have you seen the movie? Until then I rest my case.
Hey! How about this? Youíre all invited to come to my house, and Iíll run the ďFlickĒ for you. Iíll even throw in some refreshments, but then donít expect me to pick up your air fair. Sorry about this guys I just canít help the justice Pit-bull in me.
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Antwn 
Posted: 18-Jan-2008, 05:14 PM
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OK OK I WATCHED THE MOVIE!!!!! 98% of it at least, until it got too tedious. Nothing in it is new to me, the part about Christianity being a rehash of previous beliefs is taken straight from "The Christ Conspiracy - The Greatest Story Ever Sold" by Acharya S, who provides a heck of alot more source material.

I have to agree in part with the review Stoirmeil posted by saying the claims are unsubstantiated and the film itself expects you to take every one at face value. If they had made 3 films - one for each subject - and provided sources for their claims like any bona fide scholar or researcher would, then it might be more useful. In a film which talks about origins of Christianity, 9/11 as an inside job and the world being governed by an closeted clique of super rich bankers clearly bites off more than what's chewable in a 2 hour overview. If the point is to somehow connect the dots - as if the Christian religion, a banking oligarchy and 9/11 are part of one grandiose scheme of control and subjugation, then the incredulity meter skyrockets into the red zone for me. The whole thing may be absolutely true for all I know, and JC may be Morpheus asking if I want the red pill, but are we really expected to be gullible enough to believe all these claims based on this film? More trivial subject matter than this is subject to higher standards of substantiation. As far as I could see, this film doesn't avail itself of any. Makes a good story though. Any novelists out there in search of a plot line?







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Sekhmet 
Posted: 18-Jan-2008, 06:58 PM
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Yes there's novelists out here, and no, I'm not touching that sucker with a ten foot pole. Rob Brown would have a field day though. Heh.
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Shadows 
Posted: 18-Jan-2008, 07:15 PM
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When I first posted this topic my intent was to open the door to discussion about the "percieved theft" of "culture" and "religion" by those of "different" backgrounds then those percieved being "stolen" from.

Imitation can be the highest form of flattery if done with decorum and respect...

I my humble opinion every culture and religion has borrowed from the one's that preceed and this melding of ideas and philosophy is what has kept us as humans growing and going for the centuries we have existed.

I do not tout any one belief over another, nor do I expect everyone to understand my eclectic choices. I respect the choices of others and respect the "source" of any I have incorporated in my lifes journey.
I only hope everyone will one day awaken to "truth" that fits their lives and live by that truth.



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Dogshirt 
Posted: 18-Jan-2008, 09:49 PM
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QUOTE
I only hope everyone will one day awaken to "truth" that fits their lives and live by that truth.



I VERY much like the word "Truth" without the addition of the word "The"! Too many people would have the rest of us belive that THEIR truth is THE truth.
As Black Elk said "Where ever you are is the center of the Universe." But it is not the center of MY universe!


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Shadows 
Posted: 19-Jan-2008, 08:23 AM
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QUOTE (Dogshirt @ 18-Jan-2008, 10:49 PM)


I VERY much like the word "Truth" without the addition of the word "The"! Too many people would have the rest of us belive that THEIR truth is THE truth.
As Black Elk said "Where ever you are is the center of the Universe." But it is not the center of MY universe!


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stoirmeil 
Posted: 21-Jan-2008, 01:54 PM
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QUOTE (Antwn @ 18-Jan-2008, 05:14 PM)
JC may be Morpheus asking if I want the red pill

lol.gif lol.gif lol.gif

That's it! I'm gonna go visit him and see the film -- he's not that far from me.

I think there is something else going on too, in addition to the line of imitation being the highest form of flattery. I think for something to be imitated or incorporated, it has to be of some practical use or make some kind of good fit, according to the needs of the people considering it. So first, why does a culture pick up something so loaded as an external belief system with a code of ethics and a vision of what is beyond mortal existence, and then why do they modify it the way they do? I know that's standing back and taking distance, and for people who see a treasured system being appropriated in an unthinking way that brings it down, it's hard. But at least some motivations for taking on an outside belief, or some powerful feature of it, must be genuine, so the question is: who took what, and what did it serve them?
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John Clements 
Posted: 31-Jan-2008, 03:30 PM
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QUOTE (stoirmeil @ 21-Jan-2008, 01:54 PM)
That's it!  I'm gonna go visit him and see the film -- he's not that far from me.


Let me make it perfectly clear. Iím not recommending that you see Zeitgeist (the movie) because it proves that the Greatest Story Ever Told was in fact an Egyptian story. Iím suggesting that you see it because the story just isnít true.

Storoirmeil, since you were just kidding when you maid the above statement, (unbeknownst to me and everyone else), why donít you email me your address, and Iíll send you a DVD of the movie, providing that you donít keep it too long, and you foot the bill to send it back to me. I canít make it any easier then that, can I?

http://zeitgeistmovie.com/
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