Cross-cultural aesthetics

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The meaning of “cross-cultural aesthetics” is ambiguous. It may mean the admiration of the artistic forms (such as performance, literature or paintings) of another culture, or an area of inquiry into the nature of aesthetic appreciation in different cultures. This ambiguity has led to significant debates within anthropology concerning the suitability of the category of aesthetics as a field of inquiry. Anthropologists have argued the category of aesthetics is required to explain the existence of ornamentation and the emergence of artistic forms, and in order to explore the qualitative features of material culture and its connection to cultural forms. However, anthropologists are divided between the position that all people had aesthetic experience and that all cultures had some kind of art, and those who argued that art, and aesthetic appreciation, are specific to western societies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of Anthropology
Subtitle of host publicationAnthropology Beyond Text
EditorsHilary Callan
Place of PublicationHoboken NJ USA
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9780470657225
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Anthropology
  • art
  • aesthetics
  • Kant
  • Baumgarten
  • Cross-cultural aesthetics and etiquette

    Coleman, E. B., 2018, Social Aesthetics and Moral Judgment: Pleasure, Reflection and Accountability. McMahon, J. (ed.). 1st ed. Abingdon Oxon UK: Routledge, p. 180-195 16 p.

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