From Cultural Exchange to Transculturation: A Review and Reconceptualization of Cultural Appropriation


Richard A. Rogers; e-mail:


Cultural appropriation is often mentioned but undertheorized in critical rhetorical and media studies. Defined as the use of a culture’s symbols, artifacts, genres, rituals, or technologies by members of another culture, cultural appropriation can be placed into 4 categories: exchange, dominance, exploitation, and transculturation. Although each of these types can be understood as relevant to particular contexts or eras, transculturation questions the bounded and proprietary view of culture embedded in other types of appropriation. Transculturation posits culture as a relational phenomenon constituted by acts of appropriation, not an entity that merely participates in appropriation. Tensions exist between the need to challenge essentialism and the use of essentialist notions such as ownership and degradation to criticize the exploitation of colonized cultures.