Friday November 27, 2015

Cultural appropriation confusion continues after yoga class controversy

Is practicing yoga a form of cultural appropriation?

Is practicing yoga a form of cultural appropriation? (Reuters//Kimberly White/Files )

It may have seemed exotic a couple of decades ago, but the Indian practice of Yoga has gone mainstream throughout North America. 

But can you imagine what it might be like if the great Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi were to wander into your local yoga class!!

Part of what makes this video funny is the underlying discomfort in society today about the idea of cultural appropriation.  And it's a hot topic right now.  

You may have heard the story about yoga classes at the University of Ottawa that were cancelled because of cultural sensitivity concerns. It's made headlines right around the world.

"I wouldn't say that I'm mad.  I would say that I'm very happy that I've been given the opportunity, the honour, to highlight this issue that clearly goes beyond one case of one cancelled class, if it's been able to garner so much international both attention and support."  -  Jen Scharf, yoga instructor who went public with story

Then, on Wednesday, a new story emerged about a British fashion company showing clothes on the runway that copied traditional Inuit designs... including one from a shaman's parka.     

Those two stories may be the latest high profile issues of cultural appropriation in the news, but it's a topic that's everywhere right now, and one that leaves people with legitimate questions about what is, and isn't, appropriate -- and where to draw the line.


Where does one draw the line when it comes to the mainstream adoption of cultural practices? Recent controversies over a cancelled yoga class and copied traditional Inuit garment has many confused over what constitutes cultural appropriation. (Reuters)

We convened a panel to share their thoughts.

This segment was produced by The Current's Ines Colabrese, Sujata Berry and Shannon Higgins.