Cultural appropriation and theatre. Rethinking aesthetics, starting with the case of Robert Lepage’s Kanata


  • Daniela Sacco Università degli Studi di Milano


Parole chiave:

cultural appropriation, aesthetics, theatre, First Nations, Robert Lepage and Ariadne Mnouchkine, Quebec, Canada.


Observing the phenomenon of cultural appropriation in a case of theatre: Kanata the controversial spectacle by the Québecois Robert Lepage raises issues of aesthetics. The specific cultural, political and social context, together with the singularity of theatre as an art form, makes this a unique case study shedding light on that phenomenon and causing us to rethink some long-standing principles of aesthetics.

Riferimenti bibliografici

Aa.Vv., Encore une fois, l’aventure se passera sans nous, les Autochtones?, in “Le Devoir”, 14 July 2018, [online]. Accessed: 15 July 2020.

Appiah, K.A., The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity, Liveright, New York 2018.

Barbéris, I., L’art du politiquement correct, Puf, Paris 2019.

Bérubé, M. (ed. by), The Aesthetics of Cultural Studies, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Oxford, UK 2005.

Bharucha, R., Rustom Peter Brook's “Mahabharata”: A View from India, in “The Journal of Cinema and Media”, 35 (1988), pp. 33-62.

Contini, A., Estetica e diversità culturale, Aracne editrice, Roma 2013.

Coombe, R.J., The Properties of Culture and the Politics of Possessing Identity: Native Claims in the Cultural Appropriation Controversy, in “Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence”, VI, 2 (1993), pp. 249-285.

Coutts-Smith, K., Some General Observations on the Problem of Cultural Colonialism (1976), in “Cultural colonialism. Third Text”, 16, 1, (2002), pp. 1-14.

Darsigny-Trepanier, M., Nepton-Hotte, C., Jérôme, L., Uzel J-P., L’appropriation culturelle et les peuples autochtones : entre protection du patrimoine et liberté de création, GRIAAC, Montréal 2019.

Delanoë, N., Kanata ou du dialogue de sourds comme un des Beaux Arts, in “Recherches Amérindiennes au Québec”, XLIX, 1 (2019), pp. 113-115.

Dubreuil, L., La dictature des identités, Gallimard, Paris 2019.

Emoru, E., Freitas Caton, L., Rhyne, J.(ed. by), Aesthetics in a Multicultural Age, Oxford University Press, USA 2002.

Feloj S., Il dovere estetico. Normatività e giudizi di gusto, Mimesis, Milano-Udine 2018.

Fukuyama, F., The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, Farrar Straus and Giroux, New York 2018.

Gayot, J., Ariane Mnouchkine: “Les cultures ne sont les propriétés de personne”, in “Telerama”, 18 September 2018 [online].

Godin, J.C., Chaurette, N., Kwaterko J., Lemahieu, , D., Tremblay, M., Table ronde. L’appropriation culturelle du théâtre québécois, in “L’Annuaire théâtral. Revue québécoise d’études théâtrales”, 5-6 (1988-1989), pp. 75-94.

Groffier, E., Dire l’autre. Appropriation culturelle, voix autoctones et liberté d’expression, Leméac Éditeur, Montréal 2020.

Hartmut, L., Cultural appropriation as a process of displacing peoples and history, in “The Canadian Journal of Native Studies”, X, 2 (1990), pp. 167-182.

Hladki, J., Problematizing The Issue of Cultural Appropriation, in “Alternate Routes”, 11 (1994), pp. 95-119.

Holm, N., Duncan, P., Introduction: Cultural Studies, Marxism and the Exile of Aesthetics, in “Open Cultural Studies”, 2 (2018), pp. 746–757. DOI:

Lalonde, C., “Kanata”: les Amérindiens du Canada lus par Lepage et Mnouchkine, in “Le Devoir”, July 11, 2018, [online]. Accessed: 15 July 2020.

Lefrançois, , D., Étheir, M.-A., SLĀV: une analyse de contenu médiatique centrée sur le concept d’appropriation culturelle, in “Revue de recherches en littératie médiatique multimodale”, 9 (2019) [online]. Accessed: 15 July 2020. DOI:

Liberto, H., Exploitation and the vulnerability clause, in “Ethical Theory and Moral Practice”, 17 (2014), pp. 619-629.

Mag Uidhir, C., The Aesthetics of Actor-Character Race Matching in Film Fictions, in “Philosophers’ Imprint”, 12, 3 (2012), pp. 1-17.

Matthes, E.H., Cultural Appropriation Without Cultural Essentialism?, in “Social Theory and Practice”, 42, 2 (2016), pp. 343-366.

—, Cultural appropriation and oppression, in “Philosophical Studies”, 176 (2019), pp. 1003-1013.

Monteverdi, A.M., Il teatro all’epoca del Lorem Ipsum. Il debutto di Kanata di Robert Lepage/Théâtre du Soleil, in “Arabeschi”, 13 (2019), pp. 176-189 [online]. Accessed: 20 July 2019.

Mirandette, M.C., Hélène Choquette, réalisatrice de Lepage au Soleil : à l’origine de Kanata, in “Ciné-Bulles”, 37, 3 (2019), pp. 14–18.

Nguyen, C. Thi, Strohl, M., Cultural appropriation and the intimacy of groups, in “Philosophical Studies”, 176, 4 (2019), pp. 981–1002. DOI: 10.1007/s11098-018-1223-3.

Nicholas, G.P., Wylie A., “Do not do unto others . . .”. Cultural Misrecognition and the Harms of Appropriation in an Open-Source World, in G. Scarre, R. Coningham (ed. by), Appropriating the Past: Philosophical Perspectives on the Practice of Archaeology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2013, pp. 195-221.

Patella, G., Estetica culturale. Oltre il multiculturalismo, Meltemi, Roma 2005.

Patten, A. (ed. by), Equal recognition: The moral foundations of minority rights. Princeton University Press, Oxford 2014.

Pearson, P., Cultural appropriation and aesthetic normativity, in “Philosophical Studies” (2020), pp. 1-15. DOI:

Picon-Vallin, Béatrice, Le Théâtre du Soleil. Les cinquante premières années, Actes Sud, Arles 2014.

Rancière, J., Malaise dans l’esthétique, Éditions Galilée, Paris 2004.

—, Le spectateur émancipé, La Fabrique éditions, Paris 2008.

Roelofs, M. (ed. by), The Cultural Promise of the Aesthetic, Bloomsbury, London 2014.

Saint-Amand, I., La crise d’Oka en récits. Territoire, cinéma et littérature, Presses de l’Université Laval, collection «Intercultures», Québec 2015.

Siems, M., The law and ethics of ‘cultural appropriation’, in “International Journal of Law in Context”, 15 (2019), pp. 408–423. DOI:

Spivak, G.C., Can the subaltern speak?, in C. Nelson, L. Grossberg (ed. by), Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, University of Illinois Press, Urbana 1988, pp. 271-313.

—, Subaltern Studies: Deconstructing Historiography, in R. Guha and G. Chakravorty Spivak (ed. by), Selected Subaltern Studies, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1988.

—, A Critique of Postcolonial Reason, Harvard University Press, Harvard 1999.

St-Hilaire, M., Bellavance, C., La critique d’appropriation culturelle : nouvel iconoclasme, in “Inter, Art actuel”, 132 (2019), pp. 8–15.

Todd, L., Notes on Appropriation, in “Parallelogramme”, 16, 1 (1990), pp. 24-33.

Uzel, J-P., Un dramaturge et un Iroquois à Paris. L’affaire Kanata, in “Esprit, comprendre le mond qui vient”, 461 (2020), pp. 61-69.

—, Appropriation artistique versus appropriation culturelle/ Artistic appropriation versus cultural appropriation, in “esse : arts + opinions”, 97 (2019), pp. 10-15.

Young, B., “Killing the Indian in the Child”: Death, Cruelty, and Subject-formation in the Canadian Indian Residential School System, in “Mosaic: An Interdisciplinary Critical Journal”, 48, 4 (2015), pp. 63-76.

Young, J.O., Profound Offense and Cultural Appropriation, in “The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism”, 63, 2 (2005), pp. 135-146.

—, Cultural Appropriation and the Arts, Blackwell Publishing, MA/Oxford 2008.

Young, J.O., Brunk, C.G., The Ethics of Cultural Appropriation, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, MA/Oxford 2009.

YOUNG, J.O., Haley, S., ‘Nothing Comes from Nowhere’: Reflections on Cultural Appropriation as the Representation of Other Cultures”, in J.O. Young, C.G. Brunk (ed. by), The Ethics of Cultural Appropriation, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, MA/Oxford 2009, pp. 268-287.

Ypi, L., What's Wrong with Colonialism, in “Philosophy & PublicAffairs”, 41, 2 (2013), pp. 158-191.

William, R., L’appropriation culturelle (2019), traduit par P. Anacaona, Anacaona, Paris 2020.

Winchester, J., Understanding Aesthetic Judgments Across Cultural Borders: bell hooks, Kant, and Cornel West and the Understanding of Aesthetic Judgments of Others, in “The Southern Journal of Philosophy”, XXXVIII (2000), pp. 499-525.