Accepted Paper:

has pdf download Rethinking appropriation of the indigenous: A Romanticist approach to cultural imperialism within neo-Pagan communities  


Janice Newton (University of Ballarat)
David Waldron (University of Ballarat)

Paper short abstract:

Since their origins, neo-Pagan communities have been riven by conflicts surrounding appropriation from indigenous cultures. The experiences of romanticism and empire are central to understanding this appropriation as well as an understanding of intercultural discourse and communication.

Paper long abstract:

Since the origins of contemporary neo-Paganism in the 1950s, neo-Pagan communities have been riven by conflicts surrounding the appropriation of art, ritual, music and identity from colonised indigenous cultures. Fundamental views of ethnically owned cultural property and heritage are juxtaposed with notions of universal ownership reflecting post modern cosmopolitanism. These perspectives of cultural appropriation and belonging are profoundly shaped by the twin concerns of needing to maintain a sense of authenticity in ritual, symbolism and belief, and by access to public representation which is shaped by a long history of colonial and post-colonial engagement with indigenes. Furthermore, issues of wealth, power and representation and the structural issues of cultural transmission within indigenous and neo-Pagan communities further complicate the issues surrounding cultural ownership and identity. The paper argues that the experience of romanticism and empire are central to understanding the appropriation of the indigenous by neo-pagan communities but also recognises that deep connections and genuine commitment to shared communicative discourse in a contemporary cultural context are part of this relationship.

This paper negotiates these issues in relation to the engagement of neo-Pagan discourses with colonial indigenous culture in relation to romantic constructions of ethnicity, community, language and cultural property.

Panel P42
Cosmopolitanism and the appropriation of culture