The Erasure of Islam from the Poetry of Rumi Rozina Ali revisits the cultural legacy of Rumi in the West: 'The erasure of Islam from Rumi’s poetry started long before Coldplay got involved. Omid Safi, a professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic studies at Duke University, says that it was in the Victorian period that readers in the West began to uncouple mystical poetry from its Islamic roots. Translators and theologians of the time could not reconcile their ideas about a “desert religion,” with its unusual moral and legal codes, and the work of poets like Rumi and Hafez. The explanation they settled on, Safi told me, was “that these people are mystical not because of Islam but in spite of it.” This was a time when Muslims were singled out for legal discrimination—a law from 1790 curtailed the number of Muslims who could come into the United States, and a century later the U.S. Supreme Court described the “intense hostility of the people of Moslem faith to all other sects, and particularly to Christians.” In 1898, in the introduction to his translation of the “Masnavi,” Sir James Redhouse wrote, “The Masnavi addresses those who leave the world, try to know and be with God, efface their selves and devote themselves to spiritual contemplation.” For those in the West, Rumi and Islam were separated.' [Rumi previously]
"Cultural appropriation: It's about more than pho and sombreros." Viet Thanh Nguyen, recent winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Sympathizer, presents the 101 basics of Cultural Appropriation for a general audience and then addresses how to move forward.
The bizarre rise and fall and resurgence of tiki bars and cocktails is an interesting history that starts with two men, Donn Beach and Victor Bergeron, who traveled to the South Pacific and brought back some "island culture" to the United States with them in the 1930s, continuing on with the craze really booming after WWII vets returned from tours overseas. With the ebbs and flows of popularity, the cultural appropriation in "Tiki culture" has often been overlooked, as to the Māori mythology and meaning behind Tiki carvings and imagery and Hawiian culture of leis and luaus. Let's talk Tiki bars: harmless fun or exploitation. [Soundtrack: Les Baxter's Ritual Of The Savage ( 1951) and Martin Denny's Exotica (1957)] [more inside]
Sarah McCarry writes an essay about being called out for inappropriate use of Native American imagery
JK Rowling has been accused of appropriating the “living tradition of a marginalized people” by writing about the Navajo legend of the skinwalker in new story. [The Guardian] [more inside]
Tripping On Good Vibrations : Cultural Commodification and Tibetan Singing Bowls
One of the poets appearing in the anthology Best American Poetry 2015 is Yi-Fen Chou. In the anthology, the poet's bio states baldly that he has found greater success in the publication of his poetry since he adopted his pseudonym rather than using his real name, which is Michael Derrick Hudson. Naturally, this has been poorly received. Sherman Alexie, guest editor of the anthology, explains his decision to keep the poem in the anthology anyway, despite his anger at having been deceived. [more inside]
The Met's soon-to-open exhibit, titled "China: Through the Looking Glass," tackles the impact of Chinese aesthetics on Western fashion, and how Chinese culture has inspired fashionable imagination for hundreds of years. Juxtaposing high fashion with Chinese art, film, clothing, and artifacts, the exhibit looks to explore why Western culture is as enraptured with the East as it is. [more inside]
Just because there’s been more successful white rappers, you cannot disregard where this culture came from and our place in it as white people.In the wake of Azealia Banks' controversial interview on Hot 97, in which she called out Iggy Azalea and the "smudging out of black music," Macklemore appeared on the same show, Ebro in the Morning on Monday and spoke thoughtfully and at length about white privilege and cultural appropriation in hip hop. [more inside]
"... I love the version of the Thanksgiving story in the movie Addams Family Values, because I get to see the Indians win." [SLGuardian]
How did the concept of the spiritual guide leap from Native American tradition to Internet irony? With the help of Tumblr, the Times, and Samuel L. Jackson. Your Spirit Animal: An Investigation
Joanna Piacenza tackles difficulties she sees in the American conception of Buddhism. She was spurred out of writing silence several months ago by Time Magazine choosing for the second time in a decade to sell their magazine with a consumerist representation of Buddhism depicted on their cover with an pretty and ethereal looking white woman. Today, she published an article in First Things on why she believes Buddhism can't be just "an add-on: an energy boost in your spiritual smoothie," but is a religion and the American attitudes that she sees as enabling this misconception.
"DISCLAIMER: Rap Shirts for White People can be worn by people of all colors, but in some cases, it may not be appropriate to wear them at all. Use your best judgment." [NSFTwerk]
A comic on food and feeling like a repository of ethnic food advice instead of a person, by Malaysian-born artist Shing Yin Khor. Directly informed by Soleil Ho's essay "Craving the Other". “Oh, you’re Vietnamese?” they’d ask. “I love pho!” And then the whispered question—“Am I saying that right?”
How to wear Native fashions without committing cultural appropriation. Also included: a photo album of gorgeous Native designs. (via)
An English couple weds in a Colonial Africa themed wedding in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa.
The latest trend in hipster culture is the appropriation of Native American culture, here seen at San Francisco's recent Bay-to-Breakers race. The participants might ask, but why can't I wear a hipster headdress? Threadbared has a round-up of bloggers' concerns about the appropriation of Native American culture.