In "A Chorus of Faiths," a Tapestry of Faith program
Participants explore and reflect on issues of cultural misappropriation, using a method similar to Augusto Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed.
Say, in your own words:
Unitarian Universalism includes traditions drawn from many Sources, including "wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life." We also understand that religious expression is grounded in a cultural context—that is, we do not expect everyone's religious expression to be alike. This understanding gives us an attitude of openness to different religious expressions and practices.
But there is a shadow side to our attitude of openness. We may be tempted to borrow freely from other religious traditions without being respectful of that tradition. In situations where a tradition has been repressed or oppressed, such as Native American religious traditions, reckless borrowing only adds to the oppression.
Distribute Handout 2, Considerations for Cultural Borrowing — Questions to Ask (and Answer). Have volunteers take turns reading the handout aloud.
We will now play a game that will help us engage with some of the issues associated with cultural appropriation.
Ask for volunteers for these roles:
Have the anthropologist leave the room. Then invite the storyteller to tell a story from their family tradition. After the storytelling, have the anthropologist return. Ask a group of participants to act out the tradition as they understood it from the storyteller. Tell the storyteller they may not comment while the actors are retelling the story.
Once the actors complete their presentation, invite the anthropologist to interpret the meaning of the tradition.
Finally, invite the storyteller to critique both the acting of the story and the interpretation. Ask the storyteller to share any feelings that came up during the process. You might ask:
Invite the whole group to reflect on these questions:
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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.
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