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From a discussion on someone else's LJ on whether or not it is possible to belly dance without cultural appropriation; Appreciation, Appropriation, and Exploitation in Ethnic Dance

I wonder, actually, if the same examination is relevant to the martial arts - most people who study Asian MA these days are several levels of remove from the culture that spawned the art, and that culture is usually echoed in the training.

(Even more tangentially - where does that leave Brazilian Jujitsu; a Brazilian style of a Japanese martial art?)


Feb. 24th, 2010 08:30 am (UTC)
I find the article absurd, if not taken in context.

The context is that it is for dancers that are paid to belly dance, often at restaurants, or other locations where people of a particular ethnicity tend to gather.

It speaks as an outsider to that ethnicity, and the need to understand and have respect for the individual traditions that go into what they understand to be belly dancing.

In short, it slams "consumerism" while making a basic capitalist point: Know your customer, and work to meet their expectations.

Any extrapolations need to be made on that basis -- it is not speaking about art. It is speaking about business. If you divorce it from that, and elevate it into a "(belly) dance as art" (rather than "belly dance as business") perspective, it turns into an absurd set of expectations for artists -- expectations which, I would argue, an artist should reject.

Looking at the martial arts, I think that the arguments presented are largely irrelevant. Unless you are teaching a martial art, and your students are from that cultural background (and trying to be in touch with their heritage), I don't think it matters much -- so long as you are being honest about what you are and are not doing.

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