Cultural Appropriation, Pedagogy and Higher Education: Debates, Dilemmas, and Future Directions

deadline for submissions: 
April 15, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Dr. Taiwo Afolabi and Dr. Marthinus Conradie
contact email: 

Call for Papers


Based on the article titled, The fear of cultural appropriation is the beginning of wokeness in learning? Reflections from teaching in Canada (Afolabi 2023), this edited volume investigates cultural appropriation within the context of higher education across cultures and disciplines. In this call for chapters, we proceed from three foundational principles. First, higher education must endeavour to equip students with the intellectual capabilities, ethical frameworks and affective dispositions to meaningfully engage issues of contemporary significance, such as systemic forms of intersectional oppression and environmental degradation. Second, to do so, pedagogic interactions in higher education must carefully balance the imperative to foster spaces and relationships in which students can feel comfortable enough to participate actively in creating knowledge around such topics, while also being courageous enough to unpack discomforting topics that challenge students’ (and teachers’) existing epistemologies, normative assumptions and worldviews. Third, the fear of being accused of cultural appropriation can, under certain conditions, endanger this balancing act if, for example, anxiety over being accused of cultural appropriation inclines students and teachers to shy away from challenging and discomforting, yet critical topics.


Numerous conceptualizations of cultural appropriation have been developing since the 1970s. Debates within and across academic disciplines have not only refined our theorizations of the concept but have also prompted scholars to engage a wide spectrum of contexts, including consumer and celebrity cultures and political discourse. In this call for chapters, we encourage contributors to consider whether (and how) fears of cultural appropriation might impact everyday pedagogic practices in the context of higher education. Can fears of being accused of cultural appropriation stymie students and academics’ capacity to engage cardinal contemporary issues such as racism, intersectional oppression, decolonization and other axes of academic enquiry that demand collaboration between students and teachers in higher education?


Given that the term cultural appropriation has entered wider circulation in political, educational, commercial and popular cultural contexts, we consider the topic timely and vital. More students are entering higher education with some conception of what cultural appropriation might be and how it should shape their behaviour in education settings. Correspondingly, more academics are undertaking their teaching responsibilities with some awareness that they and/or their students might face accusations of cultural appropriation.


We encourage contributors to adopt a critical approach to the question by considering these points.

  • How might systemic and asymmetric power relations be at play in both students’ and teachers’ anxieties around cultural appropriation?
  • What role might contemporary identity politics within and beyond university contexts play in shaping such fears, such as the politicization of identity along left vs. right-wing groupings?
  • How is cultural appropriation related to wokeness in higher education?
  • How might social media and other venues for identity construction mediate these fears?
  • How can we distinguish ethically-sound forms of cultural sharing, respect and appreciation from cultural appropriation; how might such distinctions help to address both fears around cultural appropriation, and the deleterious impact that cultural appropriation exerts on victimized communities?
  • How might epistemologies of ignorance and contemporary forms of activism impact these fears?


In offering this broad range of starting points, we also encourage contributors to draw from a wide range of intellectual traditions and cultural experiences. We encourage co-authorship between scholars, educators and administrators across the globe. Moreover, we also confirm that by calling for scholarly works on these starting points, we do not intend to downplay the adverse impact that cultural appropriation has exerted on affected communities – both historically and under contemporary conditions of systemic marginalisation. 


Contributors are requested to submit 5,000-7,000 words engaging with the theme using any of the above-mentioned starting points (but other suggestions are also welcome). The editors welcome abstracts for a review of 300 words (max), along with 100-word biographies for each author.



Deadline for abstracts: 15th April 2024

Authors notified: June 2024

First draft chapters due: October 2024

Manuscript submitted: Fall 2025


Please send abstracts to all the editors using the email address below: