Home » Statement on Cultural Appropriation

Statement on Cultural Appropriation

[This statement is translated from the original French version.]

The Anarchist Bookfair Collective is clarifying its position on cultural appropriation, following up from last year’s events. We believe that the failure to address these issues would alienate and further victimize our friends and our allies, and prevent us from creating an open and accessible space. We recognize that hierarchical relations, power, and privilege that exist in society are reproduced within our own movements, which takes place on unceded territory of Indigenous peoples.

The Anarchist Bookfair Collective does not encourage discrimination based on appearances. It is not possible to assume the cultural identity of anyone based off visual presentation, and we do not endorse authoritarian attitudes or profiling in that regard.

We do ask people who participate in the Anarchist Bookfair to be aware of their choice of clothing and headgear (eg: dreadlocks or “Mohawk” hairstyles) and ways of being, keeping in mind that these choices can act as oppressive forces toward other people. Cultural appropriation is harmful. Acts of cultural appropriation can come from the individual, through these are gestures that are part of a larger and dominant ideology that requires continual deconstruction.

Cultural appropriation is the adoption of stolen icons, rituals, aesthetics, and behaviours of a culture or subculture by another. This is especially relevant when the culture being appropriated was created by groups that have been systematically oppressed culturally, politically, and/ or economically. Appropriation takes place when – intentionally or not – the cultural object or practice is used by someone without any regard to or understanding of the legacy and history of that object or practice. The meanings and nuances of various cultural practices are often emptied or changed without regard for their origins.

The Bookfair’s approach this year is based on popular education. Two workshops in particular will discuss cultural appropriation during the weekend of the Bookfair. We hope that these will be the first steps in creating a space for discussion and reflection in our communities. We are working to make the Bookfair as welcoming as possible for everyone, and where we continue to challenge the systems of power that structure the dominant society.

The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair Collective 2016
The Art & Anarchy Collective 2016
(May 2016)