Ethics of Appropriation

Ethics of Appropriation

87 pages


Genre: Politics, Sociology, Essay, Nonfiction
An irritant topic of the present, where it is worth not making things too easy for oneself

The talk of cultural appropriation is omnipresent. It calls into question, especially for a progressive political position, the legitimacy of cultural production that makes use of the stocks of other, "foreign" traditions. While many criticise this as a form of theft from marginalised groups, others reject the accusation: it expresses a notion of identity that has points of contact with the völkisch right. In fact, as Jens Balzer shows, all culture is based on appropriation. The question is therefore not whether appropriation is justified, but how to appropriate properly. Drawing on the emergence of hip hop and the astonishing popularity of the desire to be "Indian" in post-war Germany, Balzer sketches out an ethics of appropriation. In it, he opposes a bad appropriation, because it naturalises and determines, with a good appropriation that consciously employs its own madeness. Based on the thinking of the Creole Édouard Glissant and Paul Gilroy's "Black Atlantic" as well as Judith Butler's Queer Theory, such an ethics of appropriation also becomes the basis of an enlightened relationship to one's own identity.

German title: Ethik der Appropriation
ISBN: 978-3-7518-0535-3
Publisher: Matthes & Seitz Berlin
Publication date: 2022
Print run: 4
Series: Fröhliche Wissenschaft Vol. 207
Sold to: Italy, Spain

Sample translation

English sample translation

Jens Balzer, born in 1969, lives in Berlin and is a feature writer for DIE ZEIT.