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Cultural Appropriation

Is using elements or symbols like in the above collage really cultural appropriation? Wikipedia’s definition of cultural appropriation is the adoption of an element or elements of one culture or identity by members of another culture or identity. This can be controversial when members of a dominant culture appropriate from disadvantaged minority cultures.

The collage above consists of two images. The one with Chinese symbols is from a hotel in Göteborg where a chest of drawers dating back from the East India Company was part of the decor. The other photograph is of an apartment building complex, also from Göteborg.

I was struck by the thought of how goods and foods from China used to be exclusive and exotic and how today, so much of our everyday things are manufactured there. My point is that while most of the products imported from China are designed elsewhere, they are nonetheless Chinese by definition. So, is it cultural appropriation when millions of homes in China are filled with western products even if they were made in a multitude of factories in there? Is China still at such a disadvantage that adopting a set of symbols would be, could be, considered cultural appropriation? Is using the ancient Chinese exercise Qigong even appropriate?