Cultural Appropriation in Fandom – guest post by Akhetnu.

by Patch O'Furr

Guest post submitted by Akhetnu.

Anubis_standingFurry is a unique exploration and interpretation of the human experience, warts and all, through the lens of animals both real and fantastic.  Many of these creatures are unique to certain parts of the world, especially the imaginary ones that form part of the mythological archetypes of the cultures other than our own.  When it comes to looking at humanity, we also tend to investigate these various cultures as they existed and continue to exist throughout time. 

As a result, there are many fursuits, fursonas and furry art of beings such as dragons from East Asia adorned in silk kimono, wolves dressed as Navajo warriors, and raptors wearing uniforms of the imperial Prussian army (that was a shameless plug for myself, incidentally).  Still others may adopt a small piece of a cultural artifact such as a ying-yang symbol, Alpaca poncho, or a Chinese character tattoo.  Furries may even refer to their fursonas as ‘totems’, at least if that concept is in the popular consciousness of their society.   

Many of these furries are not themselves descendants of the cultures portrayed on their fursonas or suits.  This had led to concerns over cultural appropriation, which is believed by many to be problematic in that is dehumanizes the people of other cultures and robs them of their own identities, as and hence is thought to represent Western white oppression of minorities. 

An example in the real world was at Yale University where a letter was circulated urging students not to adopt Halloween costumes portraying other cultures, as it was allegedly harmful to others of those cultures.  An art exhibit wherein people could try on the kimono used in a painting by Monet was shut down after protests accusing the art gallery of cultural appropriation.  A Columbian student in Canada was told not to wear his own Columbian poncho and hat for Halloween, not because it was him culturally appropriating (can you appropriate from yourself?) but because other students may have mistaken it for such.

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