Considerations for Cultural Borrowing

Questions to Ask (and Answer)


  • Why am I doing this? What is my motivation?


  • What is the goal?
  • Why do we want multiculturalism?
  • Why this particular cultural material or event?


  • What is the context in which I will use the cultural material?
  • What is the cultural context from which it is taken? The history?
  • What are the controversies/sensitivities surrounding this material?
  • What are the power relationships in this context? The privileges?


  • What am I willing to do to prepare for this experience?
  • Have I done my homework on this material?
  • What sources/resources have I used?
  • Have I asked people from the culture for feedback/critical review of my plans? The history?
  • Have I asked people from the culture to create or co-create the material?
  • Did I invite people from the culture to participate? To speak for themselves in this plan?


  • Am I in relationship with people from this culture?
  • Am I willing to be part of that community's struggle?
  • What is my relationship with the source of the material?
  • What can I give in return? What do I offer?
  • With whom do I ally myself with this usage?
  • Am I working alone?


  • How does this work nurture self-identity and group identity?
  • How does this strengthen UU identity?
  • How does it help UUs be religious?
  • What does this say about UU faith?
  • How does it relate to UU spirituality or spiritual practice?
  • What can UUs learn from other traditions?


  • With printed material, who holds the copyright?
  • Have I received permission to use the material?
  • Who has the right to adapt? Why?
  • Who will be insulted/offended by this adaptation?
  • With whom do I ally myself with this adaptation?
  • What is the difference between symbolic and real ritual, and how am I using this ritual?
  • If I am using a translation is it accurate, authentic, and current?


  • Am I using current, authentic language?