SEI faculty workshop | Approaching Cultural Appropriation

Workshop Description

During the "Kimono Wednesdays" debacle at the Boston Museum, many Japanese state were puzzled by protestors' objections. Yet a few years later, when Kim Kardashian mooted her Kimono shapewear line, there was an outcry in the Japanese media. What, exactly, was different in the two cases? We may often think of cultural appropriation as bad, but it's important to delve into the whole range of bads that it includes. Because we're in the business of culture, "cultural appropriation" can be an idea that does a lot of work in the classroom. It poses the question: what belongs to who, in what ways, and what does that mean? This workshop will begin with a presentation about one perspective on cultural appropriation and important considerations in any discussion of it, before proceeding into smaller group discussions focused on concrete instances in the classroom and pedagogical approaches to integrating discussion of cultural appropriation in the classroom. Participants will be encouraged to work from specific experiences and to reflect on their own investments, biases, and goals. The goal at the end is to come out with a clearer understanding of our positions, better questions for our students, and an expanded idea of the relation between culture and power. From this point of self-reflection, we can then begin to examine the kinds of historical debts that cultural appropriation always implies---and the possibility of a reparative approach to art and design. Additional workshops will be held in the spring, expanding on these conversations.

Instructor Bio

A critic in the Painting and the Sculpture departments at RISD, David Borgonjon is a curator and writer who has written for The New York Times, Rhizome, and the Journal for Chinese Contemporary Art, among others. He co-curated In Search of Miss Ruthless (Para Site, 2017), curated Really, Socialism?! (Momenta Art, 2015), The Visible Hand (CUE Art Foundation, 2017), and In Search of Miss Ruthless (Para Site, 2017) with Hera Chan. David is completing a dissertation, Intermediary Fictions: Media Histories of Chinese-Indonesian Capital, 1920-1950”at Columbia University. He is a part of Some of his writing may be found at

Wednesday, February 19 at 6:00pm to 7:00pm

Teaching and Learning Lab in the Center for Social Equity & Inclusion
293 S. Main St., Providence, RI 02906

Event Type

SEI Event, SEI Workshop


Academic Affairs, SEI - Social Equity Inclusion Initiative

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