Abuse of traditional cultural expressions of peoples

Other Names:
Exploitation of indigenous art forms
Misuse of artistic expressions of peoples
Exploitation of sacred rituals of other cultures
Cultural robbery

Exploitation of cultural expressions of peoples, whether in the form of handicrafts, dances, ceremonies, or music, with complete disregard for authenticity and preservation, contributes to what has been termed the prostitution and degeneration of cultures.


This is especially severe in the case of indigenous peoples whose cultures are vulnerable for other reasons. Taiwan's native tribespeople have adapted their dance shows to the perceived tastes of tourists, who seem to be more interested in spectacle than tribal culture. Tribal dances and songs are adulterated by combining features of different tribes together and adding modern songs to performance programmes. In one instance, female dancers wore hardly any costume and the rhythms of the songs had been changed to fit Japanese preferences.

In North America, Indian rites and traditions such as sweat lodges, sun dances and vision quests are now basic to courses offered in self-exploration. Artefacts associated with Indian culture are widely sold. Some American Indians consider that the exploitation of their sacred rituals by non-Indians, hucksters, cultists, commercial profiteers and New Age shamans is a form of cultural robbery. As such it constitutes a final phase in the process of ethnocide whereby the whites first took their land.

Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 4: Quality EducationGOAL 10: Reduced Inequality
Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST