Should non-Mexicans be permitted to wear sombreros on Halloween? Are black people alone (or perhaps only Jamaicans) permitted to wear dreadlocks? In the last few years, we have been told that it is wrong for some groups to borrow or assimilate the cultural practices or artifacts of other groups. Understanding the debate over cultural appropriation requires exploring what we mean by terms such as “civilization” and “culture,” and analyzing whether or not marginalized groups should have veto power over attempts to borrow from their culture. This debate often comes to public attention by highlighting what many Americans think of as peripheral fashion statements, but in fact it touches on important aspects of human flourishing and essential conditions for a life well-lived.
Luigi Bradizza holds a Ph.D. in politics from the University of Dallas. He is a professor of political science at Salve Regina University and the chair of the department of political science and international relations. He has published several scholarly articles and book chapters on American political thought and political philosophy. He is the author of “Richard T. Ely’s Critique of Capitalism” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).