University of Toronto PhD Candidate Alexandra Rodney recently published a blog post on the site Sociological Images. The blog, created and edited by Professor Lisa Wade of Occidental College in Los Angeles, provides short sociological discussions of “compelling and timely imagery that spans the breadth of sociological inquiry.” It is widely used by instructors of sociology and by people just interested in exploring contemporary issues through a sociological lens.
Alexandra published a discussion about Totem Vodka, a vodka that was produced for a short time in the Vancouver area in June and July, 2016 before being pulled from the market in response to objections. The piece introduces the concept of Cultural Appropriation and then uses Totem Vodka to illustrate the concept.
The post begins:
Totem Vodka and Indigenous Cultural Appropriation
Cultural appropriation generally refers to the adoption of traditional practices, objects, or images by a person or group that is not part of the originating culture. Cultural appropriation can become problematic when it is done without permission, serves to benefit the dominant group, and erases or further marginalizes the oppressed group. In this way, cultural appropriation can recreate larger structures of inequality.
On a recent stroll through a duty-free shop, I was introduced to one of these problematic examples in the form of a new Canadian product named “Totem Vodka,” packaged in a bottle resembling a totem pole. Totem Vodka is not a product of Indigenous entrepreneurship.
Read the full Sociological Images post here.
Alexandra Rodney is a PhD Candidate in Sociology with research interests focusing on the Sociology of Culture, and Gender. Her dissertation work probes into the world of food and healthy living blogs to bring understanding to the production and reception of food and fitness discourses in Canada and the United States.