Halloween, like many modern American holidays, is a kind of mashup of different cultural traditional traditions rooted in the autumnal harvest, and some kind of celebration or connection with the spirit world. You see it in Mexico with Dia de los Muertos; and in pre-Christian Ireland, it was Oíche Shamhna ("Shamna" being the genitive form of "Samhain," which is pronounced kind of like "SOW-un," and actually just means "November").
An episode of The Irish Passport podcast takes a close look at the roots of those Gaelic traditions, and the kind of generation loss that happened when it was exported to the United States, and then re-imported back to Ireland. The result is kind of fun-house-mirror reflection of itself—modern Irish imitating a mutated American imitation of older Irish traditions. You'll also get to learn a bit about how the faeryfolk in Ireland, the Aos Sídhe, still play an active role in modern real estate development in the Republic (yes really).
Just below the surface of modern Ireland, a parallel world exists with its roots in pre-Christian belief. Irish fairies aren’t like Tinkerbell—they’re more like a supernatural mafia. So be careful what you say, because as the story goes, they’re probably listening. Tim talks to one of Ireland’s last seanchaí or story-teller historians, who once managed to get a highway diverted to prevent the felling of a fairy bush. We also hear about modern traditions from the streets of Galway as the Celtic New Year Samhain festival is underway.
You can download the mp3, or find the episode on iTunes/Stitcher/Google Play/Spotify/etc. Read the rest
In the Dept. of It's About Time: Attendees to San Francisco's upcoming Outside Lands festival will not be allowed to wear Native American headdresses anymore. The festival banned the headwear and included it in a long list of other no-nos such as fireworks, totems, and selfie sticks.
In a statement, organizers of the three-day event explain why this form of cultural appropriation will no longer stand. KPIX:
Out of respect for Native American heritage and culture, we do not allow headdresses at Outside Lands. We are committed to creating a safe, respectful and inclusive environment for all.
Controversies about white people wearing Native American headgear at music festivals dates back at least five years, when the Bass Coast Festival chose to ban such headdresses out of respect for the fact that the festival was occurring on tribal lands. But the blog Native Appropriations has been calling out festival-goers since 2010. In 2017, one young woman who was called out on Instagram by Native Appropriations for her Coachella headdress issued a public apology that was picked up by Teen Vogue.
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In 1994, Disney trademarked the use of the phrase "hakuna matata" on clothing, footwear, and headgear. The common Swahili phrase, meaning "no trouble," was the name of a song in Disney's movie The Lion King. Now, a petition for Disney to give up the copyright, has more than 50,000 signatures.
(Zimbabwean activist Shelton) Mpala told CNN he started the petition "to draw attention to the appropriation of African culture and the importance of protecting our heritage, identity and culture from being exploited for financial gain by third parties. This plundered artwork serves to enrich or benefit these museums and corporations and not the creators or people it's derived from."
(image: a selection of goods from Alibaba.com)
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I've been following BurritoGate, the story of two white women in Portland who went to Mexico (barely, they went to Puerto Nuevo,) and liked the burritos. The pair decided to learn to make flour tortillas, ran into some language barriers, and then came back to Portland to serve breakfast burritos one day a week from a taco cart. Social Justice could not stand the 'cultural appropriation.' Read the rest
Almost 40 years later and we're still treating indigenous peoples like this. (r/ObscureMedia, thanks UPSO!)
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A kerfuffle about a Canadian university where yoga classes were cancelled after concerns about cultural appropriation were raised by the Centre for Students with Disabilities sparked Michelle Goldberg, author of a biography of yoga pioneer Indra Devi to discuss the complicated issue of cultural exports, cultural appropriation, and the history of yoga. Read the rest
How one publisher turned a video game into a collaboration with an entire Alaska Native community.