Disclaimer: Cultural appropriation is an emotionally charged topic and is criticized by a number of intellectuals, and my intent is to determine the philosophical grounding of the topic through vetted publications. Any objection to my phrasing will be answered with a good-faith effort to create more neutral language as my agenda is to cure my philosophical ignorance, and not push a position. From WP:
The concept of cultural appropriation has also been subject to heavy criticism and debate. Critics note that the concept is often misunderstood or misapplied by the general public, and that charges of "cultural appropriation" are at times misapplied to situations such as trying food from a different culture or learning about different cultures. Others state that the act of cultural appropriation as it is usually defined does not meaningfully constitute social harm, or the term lacks conceptual coherence. Additionally, the term can set arbitrary limits on intellectual freedom, artists' self-expression, reinforce group divisions, or promote a feeling of enmity or grievance rather than of liberation.
Pursuant to answering the question Can a subculture be appropriated? (PhilSE), some discussion ensued to my response drawing into question my skepticism of the conceptual coherence of the term 'cultural appropriation'. As appropriation appears to reduce to the notion of theft, the existence of such a phenomenon as cultural appropriation clearly has ethical and political implications. When raising the question, how can imitating others be theft, the argument apparently boils down to harm. While using the example of US bluesmen having their music and style imitated and not benefiting economically from it (loudersound.com), I can see the general outline of a case made for the coherence of cultural appropriation, however, at the same time, it seems like harm in most instances is made in the guise of "emotional harm". Given the subjectivity of emotions and feelings, this tends to lead to emotionally charged controversy about cultural appropriation as anyone who has any feelings or emotion vaguely uncomfortable can claim harm without objective and consensual measure. In fact, there is discussion on the Internet on exactly what constitutes 'cultural appropriation' in non-philosophical discourse given it's abstract characterization, such as this article.
Is there literature on 'cultural appropriation' that provides a coherent explanation of what it is, and if so what is the summary?
Clarifications and Edits
I make no claims as the 'reality' of the subjective. I'll accept the Meinongian jungle if it makes sense in the context of the literature in question. I include here only because it raises questions of objective verification or falsification as an epistemological strategy.
The question of what is 'cultural appropriation' has political implications, and is itself related to political philosophy because it revolves around power dynamics, and I have updated the tags to modify it, but that is distinct from the question serving a political agenda. As a pluralist, I am looking for a variety of sources with a variety of interpretations.
I have recently reformed the claim about the term being "widely abused" to noting it is both an "emotionally charged" and "controversial topic". I have also cited one (of many articles) that show that the term is widely misunderstood and requires clarification given the abstractness. There are obviously large segments of the general public who skeptical, and the best course of action is tempered dialog, not cancelation of opposing views by extremists in any political conflicts surrounding the topic.