There is a difference between "closed" and "protected--" have we forgotten this?
It’s a matter of respect, I think. If one doesn’t respect a given tradition, then it won’t be performed right, whether you’re from that tradition or not.
This has been up for me recently as the ManKind Project, an organization I used to be affiliated with, and which is still quite near and dear to my heart, is currently doing a deep re-examination of the ways in which they incorporate indigenous ritual into their initiations. I am in disagreement with their decision to suspend all initiations, especially after the long hiatus caused by Covid, based solely on an accusatory article written about them, but I have to admit that a re-examination is probably a healthy part of their evolution as an organization. It's an interesting issue because they are doing the vitally important work of reintroducing initiatory ritual into the culture, but it's a culture that, to my limited knowledge anyway, has none of its own initiatory practices to fall back on. So some level of cultural amalgamation is a necessary component of the work. And who is to say that this sort of amalgamation can't be a generative act in and of itself? That's one of my issues with the typical postmodern view on cultural appropriation: It makes no room whatsoever for the emergence of new forms through cross-pollination. It considers any such attempt to be a perversion of a supposedly "pure" practice which in reality is probably also the result of some kind of co-evolution with other forms and practices anyway. One aspect of colonization that is nearly always overlooked is that in it's own terrible, violent, non-consensual way, it was doing the opposite of a closed practice: Attempting to spread the fruits of a particular culture, in this case free market capitalism, as wide and far as possible. And despite the horrors, the results of it being assimilated and integrated into different cultures across the globe has also had some very positive effects. Steven Pinker isn't entirely wrong. As Noah Yuval Harari might put it, is the magic of conjuring up an LLC out of thin air any less of an esoteric ritual than a rain dance? Should only those with Dutch ancestry be allowed to buy and trade stocks? What do we consider to be "culture", and why?
I find the concept of cultural appropriation to be such a grey area. Many of the people (of said culture) may be drifting from their ancestral practices, themselves. What then, is so wrong about someone who is drawn to that "medicine" picking it up and practicing it? If keeps it alive and actively adapting asso things must to survive.