Cultural Appropriation and CES

The Canadian Evaluation Society (CES) is committed to promoting diversity, supporting inclusion and building equity through peer-to-peer learning.

Cultural appropriation refers to using intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artefacts from another culture without permission. It is most likely to be harmful when it involves a power dynamic in which the source culture is a group that has been oppressed or exploited, or when the object of appropriation is particularly sensitive or sacred.

While it may seem difficult to distinguish between the appreciation for another culture and the act of cultural appropriation, it is important that we do so, especially in our roles as professional practitioners, peer educators and evaluation ‘experts’.

Cultural appropriation is harmful because:

  • Ideas are often used without proper credit to their originators;
  • Benefits can accrue to people from the dominant culture instead of to people from the source culture;
  • There is an increased risk of misinterpretation or misrepresentation when ideas are used by someone from outside the source culture;
  • Using an idea from another culture without actively engaging in anti-oppression efforts does not transform the systemic violence or heal the harm that the people of that culture experience.

The CES and the C2022 Co-Chairs invite anyone submitting a proposal (workshop, paper, or thematic breakfast) to reflect on whether you may be engaging in cultural appropriation. The following resources provide further information on cultural appropriation to assist you:

As part of the online C2022 submission process, we will be asking for a declaration that the workshop leaders(s), presenters(s) or thematic breakfast discussant(s) are not engaging in cultural appropriation.