Date of this Version
Published in The Social Fabric: Deep Local to Pan Global; Proceedings of the Textile Society of America 16th Biennial Symposium. Presented at Vancouver, BC, Canada; September 19 – 23, 2018. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/tsaconf/
As textile makers and researchers, we value the indigenous cultural wealth represented in the extraordinary array of textiles available to us through current worldwide channels. For millennia, textiles have been an effective vehicle for cultural intersection and exchange; traditions, materials, motifs, techniques, words, and beliefs are adopted, extended, and enriched by the meeting of peoples. Increasingly-and particularly with the advent of “fast fashion”-textile styles and motifs are being widely appreciated, and subsequently appropriated, without acknowledgement or compensation to the culture from which they derived. Is it possible to create productive collaboration across cultures without exhausting or dispossessing the custodians of tradition? By examining a culture’s history and context, we can support our delicate responsibility to protect and share entwined identities. But do we? When does our ethical obligation to others waver? Where does appreciation and inspiration become appropriation, and sharing become stealing? What types of standards can we invent and enforce to defend both a personal or societal quest for identity and the guardians of cultural legacies? Is it possible? Scrutinizing current standards in using the material and processes of cultures other than our own and we discuss our research in answering the questions we have put forth. Beginning with identification of what is considered cultural knowledge (yours), and continuing the dialogue to what can be original (mine), we will offer ways to merge with respect, into “ours”.