Many stories and films contain elements of foreign cultures, or are supposedly set in foreign lands, yet were written by outsiders to those cultures. For example:

  • Tikki Tikki Tembo was set in ancient China, but was written by an American author.

  • Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat was set in ancient China, yet was written by Canadians.

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender, contained many subtle references to Chinese and Japanese cultures, but was written by Americans.

Is there any term which could be used to describe such works collectively or to describe the resulting "culture not-quite-matching-the-real-thing"?

  • Why not ask on writersSE? – Kris Aug 22 '13 at 6:08
  • Not related to English language -- perhaps better on writersSE. – Kris Aug 22 '13 at 6:09

There's a bit of a debate over this going on in literary circles in the last few years. The term often used is Voice Appropriation. The concept and term stem from the idea of cultural appropriation, which is adoption of specific elements of another culture.


The popular term used in such circumstances is that something is "lost in translation"

  • 3
    We're not talking about stories from one culture that are told in another, but of a story from one culture that is set in another culture. There is nothing to lose in translation because nothing is being translated. – choster Aug 21 '13 at 14:13

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