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Cultural Appropriation (1 Viewer)

Escribo

Member
I'm writing a story set in Sweden involving some Lapp (Sami) cultural references. It follows on from a hike that I did there earlier this year. I'm British. Do you think there's anything inappropriate about that? Would Swedes feel at all that it was none of my business to be writing about this?

Looking at it the other way round, if a Swede wrote a story set in ancient Stonehenge, say, I suppose I would find that a bit odd. Why doesn't he write about his own country? But I wouldn't be offended. And as long as he had shown a genuine interest in the place and done his research I would think that it was OK. And maybe interesting to get an outsider's perspective on my own country.

So on balance I think it's OK what I'm doing. But does anyone have any other thoughts?
 

LadySilence

Senior Member
I wrote several short stories, none of them ever set in my country.
I see nothing wrong with it.
I believe it helps to know, expand, culture and knowledge.
 

Escribo

Member
I wrote several short stories, none of them ever set in my country.
I see nothing wrong with it.
I believe it helps to know, expand, culture and knowledge.
Thanks. Yes, that's what I think. It should be interesting for people to read about a part of the world they may well never have visited.
 

Elenxes_II

Senior Member
Yeah, I’d say so long as you’re respectful and accurate there should be no issue. I wouldn’t worry about it.
 

powseitch

Member
Hi there, I'm new so as yet unfamiliar with protocols.

I wrote a long answer and a short answer; so thanks for your question as it helped crystalise a few thoughts in my own mind.

Short answer:
(In accord with others)
Whether anyone else wants to read the story will depend less on cultural appropriation and more on how well researched and written the story is.

Happy to provide the "long answer" which relates more specifically to Australian Aboriginal culture.
 

CyberWar

Senior Member
I don't really believe in this "cultural appropriation" thing, beyond that it's an artificial problem created by professionally-offended crybabies these days. Cultures interact and appropriate something from each other all the time, especially in today's globalized society. Some of Western world's greatest artworks are the product of what some would call cultural appropriation today. Ancient Romans were masters of cultural appropriation, and used it to ensure peace and stability throughout their empire. So it's not like the phenomenon of one people intentionally adopting elements of others' culture is new or a bad thing like certain professional victims would have it.

I certainly wouldn't worry about it at all. If the woke crowd has a problem with it, let them cry you a river.
 

escorial

WF Veterans
Write what you feel,believe...the publishing world is in dire straights with celeb novels and pc works that are written in a soap bubble...a great story needs grit,slime and unpolitical correct words.,
 

Xander416

Senior Member
I don't really believe in this "cultural appropriation" thing, beyond that it's an artificial problem created by professionally-offended crybabies these days. Cultures interact and appropriate something from each other all the time, especially in today's globalized society. Some of Western world's greatest artworks are the product of what some would call cultural appropriation today. Ancient Romans were masters of cultural appropriation, and used it to ensure peace and stability throughout their empire. So it's not like the phenomenon of one people intentionally adopting elements of others' culture is new or a bad thing like certain professional victims would have it.

I certainly wouldn't worry about it at all. If the woke crowd has a problem with it, let them cry you a river.
Yeah, I agree. It's especially funny when people talk about a given subculture influencing mainstream culture, then complain when the wider population emulates it. I mean, isn't that the whole point?
 

Squalid Glass

WF Veterans
I don't think any reasonable person would have a problem with respectful emulation or incorporation, Escribo. If something is authentic, accurate, and done in good faith, it should be fine, and your example seems to be that way.

The problem of problematic "cultural appropriation" goes beyond emulation. It's more complex than that. It has more to do with double standards, societal inequities, and issues of cognitive dissonance.
 

Phil Istine

WF Veterans
I don't believe there ought to be a problem with someone writing on other cultures in that way so long as it's made clear the perspective belongs to an outsider.

In my life I have been in two deviant subcultures that spring readily to mind. When someone writes a story specifically based in either (or both) of those subcultures, I usually know intuitively whether the writing is based on their own experiences, though most people wouldn't be aware. I suppose that's why it is better to ask questions of members of a culture and, even better, have some kind of beta read setup.
 

epimetheus

Friends of WF
Looking at it the other way round, if a Swede wrote a story set in ancient Stonehenge, say, I suppose I would find that a bit odd. Why doesn't he write about his own country? But I wouldn't be offended. And as long as he had shown a genuine interest in the place and done his research I would think that it was OK. And maybe interesting to get an outsider's perspective on my own country.

So on balance I think it's OK what I'm doing. But does anyone have any other thoughts?

The people who built stonehenge are as culturally distant to modern Brits as they are to modern Swedes, with most of us thinking Stonehenge was built by Celts. I don't know much about the Sami but wouldn't be surprised if the same was true of them.

Some of the best ancient stories we have would be deemed cultural appropriation today - the Arthurian cycle started as a Celtic story recorded by Latin writing Christian monks. If cultures aren't allowed to cross-pollinate then how can anything new grow?

Would be interesting to see some work based on the Sami cultures.
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
I'm writing a story set in Sweden involving some Lapp (Sami) cultural references. It follows on from a hike that I did there earlier this year. I'm British. Do you think there's anything inappropriate about that? Would Swedes feel at all that it was none of my business to be writing about this?

Looking at it the other way round, if a Swede wrote a story set in ancient Stonehenge, say, I suppose I would find that a bit odd. Why doesn't he write about his own country? But I wouldn't be offended. And as long as he had shown a genuine interest in the place and done his research I would think that it was OK. And maybe interesting to get an outsider's perspective on my own country.

So on balance I think it's OK what I'm doing. But does anyone have any other thoughts?

I can't imagine anyone would be the slightest bit bothered. Philip Pullman somewhat does this anyway, in His Dark Materials. It's not like we colonised Sweden and took all their history.
 

Hector

Senior Member
I never mention any specific place in my stories, though, for the sake of simplicity, I always use dollars as currency.
 

babyjenks

Member
As somebody whose country has been written on by many people and mostly negatively, I think it depends on how you write about Sami culture. If you do it respectfully, and with depth and not just to give to your story or your character some "exotic" vibes, then go for it.
Even when somebody writes about my country negatively, if they do it with the right depth and with the right research behind their words, I won't take offence.
 

Omits

Senior Member
If the story is set modern remember that cultures merge and that might be an area for experimentation.
 
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