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U. Texas ‘studies’ prof says ‘cultural appropriation’ is like theft of intellectual property

Never underestimate the inanity of college “studies” professors, especially given that they’re usually on a quest for the next gripe du jour.

At a recent University of Texas confab, cultural studies prof Luis Urrieta opined that cultural appropriation — the use of certain aspects of one culture by another — is like an “intellectual property violation.”

“Appropriation is a form of theft,” Urrieta, a member of the Center for Mexican American Studies and a faculty affiliate at the Native American & Indigenous Studies program, said. “It is a nice way of saying that someone is taking someone else’s (idea) and making it their own.”

As reported by The Daily Texan, examples of this “theft” noted by a UT student were people wearing “pompom drop earrings” and “Huipil-inspired clothing.”

Urrieta added that “a consumer appropriates other cultures when they [sic] ignore the product’s place in a larger social narrative”:

“In the process of taking, the taker ignores the significance, meaning, or his-, her- or they-story of the cultural items,” he said. “The taker also does not credit the source in any significant or meaningful way.”

From the story:

Rachel V. Gonzalez-Martin, an assistant professor in the Mexican American and Latino/a Studies department, said there is a difference between appreciation and appropriation.

“Appropriation and appreciation are contextual — meaning you need to understand people and their motivations and personal histories before you can judge,” Gonzalez-Martin said. “Appropriation is cultural poaching. Appreciation is an observational practice, that understands (the art is) built by living communities.”

Urrieta said this pattern of appropriation is not without consequence.

“There are many economic, social and symbolic repercussions,” Urrieta said. “The first is obviously the theft of intellectual property, the theft of communal knowledge … Socially, it reduces native and indigenous peoples to ‘artifacts’ that can be worn, used, consumed and displayed.”

[Student Maria] Carranco said the social repercussions caused by the disparity between the appropriator and the appropriated are closer to home than most would think.

“Only (a white woman) can wear these and be seen as looking presentable,” Carranco said. “Because if an indigenous woman wears those, she’s not seen as presentable.”

U. Texas certainly is not alone in dealing with the cultural appropriation nonse– er, problem; in late summer the University of Michigan advertised a position for someone to enact “cultural appropriation prevention activities.” Salary: $50,000 per year.

A year ago at the University of California Merced, students involved in fraternities and sororities were told to avoid using the terms “Greek,” “rush,” and “pledge” because they “appropriated” Greek culture. Or something.

But perhaps the most outrageous reaction to this “cultural theft” occurred at San Francisco State University where a black student attacked a white peer because his hair … was in dreadlocks.

Read the full Daily Texan article.

MORE: Univ. wheelchair basketball event ‘cultural appropriation,’ promotes ‘ableism’

MORE: Female student assaulted other girls for culturally appropriating braided hair

IMAGE: liukov/Shutterstock

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  • Ben Vincent

    Does this mean that only Hispanic UT students can eat at Taco Bell?

    • ys1

      Yes, but they can not use electricity to cook the food as Edison was not Hispanic.

      • matt10023

        Actually, it’s Tesla’s AC electrical distribution system that Taco Bell uses to fry their disgusting “food”.

  • Robert

    One more buffoon! ….”like intellectual property”. There is none on US college campus anymore. These are dolts in search of meaning and finding none! Any parent paying for their son or daughter to go to most US colleges should be aware they are only throwing money in the garbage.

  • Linda Baxter

    The concept of Intellectual proper is a Western one. So he is breaking his own rules by adopting the concept. Will he return to speaking Mayan since Spanish is also a Western language. Once you take this outside of your insular concept of culture it breaks down totally.

  • FMarion

    This is getting pretty funny. These folks keep positing norms, but since they have no underlying theory for what makes a norm its all a bunch of random statements that have no inherent meaning.

    In the end, though, it is about power–not norms. They are asserting power on campus and want to force white students to abide by it. The end result is predictable, though tragic. A few snowflakes will bow down, take copious notes and be happy to receive the tiniest crumbs of praise as white people who understand how terrible they are. The rest of the students will say nothing, get along with graduating, and hold resentments (including potentially a lot of resentment) close to the chest.

    University administrators deserve the blame. They know how that these grievance-studies professors are semi-educated and not-very-bright charlatans but they keep throwing money at grievance studies to appease the beast. And, of course, the beast just keeps getting bigger and hungrier. Pretty soon a number of colleges (Evergreen State is already beyond the point) are going to be completely hollowed out, and will go broke because enough people won’t be willing to buy their worthless degrees.

  • Jen V

    Ok – you Hispanics can keep your bean burritos and serapes. We’ll keep our electricity & the internal combustion engine.


    • xenonman

      Very fair! They can also keep their “aguas negros” as well!

  • ys1

    The answer to such stupidity is that: Maths, Physics, Philosophy, Classical Music, etc ,etc – are all ‘appropriated’ as none , for example, came from Africa, etc. – No worries, keep the dreadlocks, earrings, etc. and drop the really valuable Intellectual Property. Not all intellectual property is of identical value, not all required the same amount of effort, etc, etc – We all know that dreadlocks are superficial and Quantum Mechanics is not.

    • matt10023

      Algerbra comes from the middle east, as does the concept of zero.

      • ys1

        1. Note that I referenced broad fields and not specific items. In all these fields the bulk of the ‘body of work’ is not in the middle east or elsewhere – in fact it would account for more then , lets say, 99.9999% or our knowledge. So finding here and there some other sources is missing the woods for the trees ….. 🙂
        2. With regards to the two items you have pointed out – you might be right, however, it would not change the argument. In reality it is not as simple and clear cut as you think it is as the problem is of a definitional matter – e.g. The greek mathematician Diophantus was traditionally recognized as the “father of algebra” , similarly the interpretation of zero as positional, etc is not clear cut and may owe more to India…. Regardless if attributed to middle east, india, etc – the reality is that these are narrow items within deep bodies of knowledge

      • xenonman

        Correct! Muslims gave us ZERO!

    • david smith

      We shouldn’t have black studies at American schools because blacks were appropriated.
      Blacks helped appropriate blacks, but that’s another story.

  • ys1

    At least he is not appropriating Logic – I guess he recognizes that it is Greek and so he is not allowed to use it 🙂

    • xenonman

      He’ll just have to stick with souvlaki, gyros, and dolmades!

  • ys1

    Is he not culturally appropriating by attending University ?? – While there would be debate regarding the origin and it derivation (e.g. do we do go back to Shangyang, “higher school,” China, established sometime during the Yu period: 2257-2208 BC OR do we recognized Universities as a different derivative IP), however, regardless we know that it did not come from South America, Spain or Portugal. – Surely even he (doubtful) recognizes that Universities are of slightly higher IP value then dreadlocks or earrings (as long as it not Evergreen College ,etc)

    • xenonman

      Sorry, but Portugal is not considered “Hispanic” for Affirmative Action purposes!

  • Ian Mcintosh

    The biggest factors you have to consider when talking about cultural appropiration is multiculturalism. Multiculturlism does not just mean a society where different religions, political ideologies and ethnicity groups co exist together with equal treatment and rights but also cultural embracement where one culture embraces elements from another culture to create a better understanding of each other and create a unified one culture. If I wore a samurai kimono while eating sush…i and drinking Sake I am not stealing japanese culture I’m embracing it through admiration.

    Western culture through extreme historical imperialism is completly made up from elements of other countries our clothes, music, technology, food, TV, games, toys even our very language is inspired by other cultures. The only way you can stop cultural appropriation is through cultural and racial segragation and the conquences of doing so would be catastrophic for our development as a society. The fact that a university “professional” does not take these things into account just shows you the kind of maronic racist idiocy that universities are indoctrinating students with.

  • Tatiana Covington

    Very well… Blacks should not use anything invented after 100,000 BC or so. Else they’re appropriating White stuff.

    • david smith

      I’ve said many times that if we are going to go down the “cultural appropriation” road, a black woman better never straighten her hair again!

  • xenonman

    From now on, only Norwegian-Americans may consume lutefisk and lefsa!

    • matt10023

      Don’t forget Surströmming. Can’t understand why that’s not a hit outside of the region.

  • matt10023

    Eeesh. I guess this kind of intersectional theory will lead this professor to start commenting on how trademark law is oppressive to minorities who sell knock-off Prada bags on Canal Street in NYC.

  • TxMedRgr

    So I can’t eat at a Mexican, Chinese, Thai or Indian restaurant? Is French or Italian food still okay for me?

    • xenonman

      Only if you can document your French and Italian ancestry back to A.D. 1000 !

  • david smith

    For one, he should be talking to Spain not the U.S.
    In addition, he should be talking to African-Americans. They have a racial history of appropriation, destruction, conquest, enslavement, murder and rape that has existed for over 3000 years. It still exists today. Slavery, by blacks and of blacks, has been a mainstream industry on the African continent for Eons.

  • In a vast majority of the American universities, a student will not receive an education, nothing close to a classical education. When the students realize they have been cheated of $$ and knowledge, the university will suffer an attrition rate of high numbers. Good. Time the shutter these building and the professors enjoy the benefits of no job other than flipping hamburgers. Even that job me be taken by robots. But who will notice the difference between the professor and the robot?