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Author Topic: Steampunk Vs Cultural Appropriation  (Read 7825 times)
chicar
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« on: November 02, 2014, 02:28:05 pm »

I don't know if it count as a political debate, but i would want to adress the problem of cultural appropriation when it came to cosplay in general and steampunk fashion in particular. There this nice article about integrating your OWN heritage in your steamyness:
http://beyondvictoriana.com/2010/11/21/beyond-victoriana-50-overcoming-the-noble-savage-and-the-sexy-squaw-native-steampunk-monique-poirier/

But for ''whindian'' , ''whigger'' and other ''wheaboo'' it seem to be more problematic. At first i thought it was just about rank ( ex: feathers) or sacred (ex: bindi) symbols but more i study the situation and more i realised is more difficult than it seems to play a character of a culture other than your own. What it is particularly depressing if you feel nearer of this other culture.

Thankfully there guidelines:
http://www.springhole.net/other/what-is-cultural-appropriation.htm
http://apihtawikosisan.com/2012/01/the-dos-donts-maybes-i-dont-knows-of-cultural-appropriation/
http://apihtawikosisan.com/hall-of-shame/an-open-letter-to-non-natives-in-headdresses/

And as my ''studys'' show, Don't Dress Like A Cartoon seem to be the prime directive.

Any steampunk specific additional tip you would want to give to ''transethnic'' (think transgenderism but for ethnicity) peoples like me ?

Edit: Ok, not quite popular. ^^ Well, i later on realised than the time period may be a limited excuse as long than you are accurate on your representation on your chossen tribe.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2014, 01:08:15 pm by chicar » Logged

The word pagan came from paganus , who mean peasant . Its was a way to significate than christianism was the religion of the elite and paganism the one of the savage worker class.

''Trickster shows us how we trick OURSELVES. Her rampant curiosity backfires, but, then, something NEW is discovered (though usually not what She expected)! This is where creativity comes from—experiment, do something different, maybe even something forbidden, and voila! A breakthrough occurs! Ha! Ha! We are released! The world is created anew! Do something backwards, break your own traditions, the barrier breaks; destroy the world as you know it, let the new in.''
Extract of the Dreamflesh article ''Path of The Sacred Clown''
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« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2014, 01:56:48 pm »

I am an American. All of my culture has been appropriated from somewhere else.
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« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2014, 02:52:26 am »

I don't see why we need to be so exquisite about our apparel details and perhaps feel "not entitled" to bear Native Artefacts for fear of causing offense by way of our blood "impurity."  We may be over complicating issues and neglecting the reality at the continental level.

What about all of us from "South of the Border" (US-Mexico border, specifically)?  Are we doomed to culturally appropriate by default?  Some of those guidelines you show are pointing toward trivial usage of symbols, as in the sense of cosplay.  But what if you are genuinely part Native?  Do we follow the "North American Guidelines?"

Should I refrain from using a representation of the Aztec god of water Tlaloc or the Mayan Maize god Yuum-Kax, because I am culturally appropriating symbols of a long-dead religion?   Or showing disrespect because I'm not 100% Olmec?  Should I keep Lakota people from wearing Aztec symbols? Or Mayan symbols?  Sorry Navajo, no Chaac-Mol usage for you.

The problem is that I feel we can easily overthink the situation and regulate dress codes to the point of silliness.

By the way, I take serious exception to the idea of anyone using the name "Oreo" - seems offensive to me.  If you must use a name, use the proper name assigned centuries ago by the Spanish and still used today by Caucasian-Natives themselves, "Mestizo" (lit. "mixed"). Mestizos may be scarce in your region, but they are decidedly the majority of the population in the American Continent.

As an aside, both the author's article and Beyond Victoriana #9, referenced throughout are somewhat myopic (near-sighted), in my opinion, probably because of the North American-centric views held by the author.  There is a major flaw in the arguments presented therein; the outline of her Steampunk world assumes contact/conflict/interaction between Native and Europeans in her Native Confederation occurred in the context of the 19th. C in Political North America (US and Canada as opposed to Geographical North America, ie Mexico, US and Canada).  There is no mention of previous interaction.

Thus the author views Mexico and the United States as having parts of it's territory lost to a Native Confederation, as if there were no Native or cultural background and influence in the rest of Mexico (or the Americas for that matter).  Unrealistic given the extensive integration of Natives since the times of 1500's Viceroyalty of New Spain.

I guess it is a very hard pill to swallow to realise that at a continental level, racial and cultural assimilation did in fact occur successfully - but really came to fruition only at the hands of the Spanish, whereas in North America, the interaction between Native and Europeans unfolded with far more devastating consequences in the long run.  Now we revere the last remains of the North American Natives and proudly count the percentage points in our blood. After having displaced and hunted them down to near extinction.  All while in parts of Mexico you can still find people who don't even speak Spanish (admittedly a very reduced number by now), and noting 60% are Mestizo (ranging from 90% Native through 90% European), plus a full 1/3 of the population is still full-blooded Native, even if they no longer speak their mother tongues.

Mexican woman from the state of Campeche is wearing a Huipil ("oo-ee-peel") dress which is very close to the original native dresses but was adapted to Spanish textiles and European embellishments such as lace, which you see everywhere in Mexico (Lace was important in Spain, because during the reign of Philip II of Spain in 1555 he wa the lord of the Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands.  So lace became a commodity in the trade between the Spanish colonies and Europe).

These Mexican girls' expression is worth a thousand words  Grin  That's some stare they gave the camera man
The one in the middle is thinking, "you are about 5 seconds away from getting your ass whooped..."  Grin

Outside of Political North America, Native symbols and culture were bastardized, adapted, reinvented, introduced into religion, and re-adopted over and over and over.  Day of the Dead altars and sugar skulls folded into Catholic ritual being a prime example. Seemingly gaudy Purple, Royal Blue, Yellow and Magenta/Fuschia colours calling the attention of American and European tourists to Mexican contemporary architecture at hotel resorts and cityscapes (e.g. architect Luis Barragan) - all of these colours are traditional Native pigment colours used in Mesoamerica, obtained from insects and plants, and at some point they held strong significance even in the religious sense (Maya use of White and Red in their buildings).  The Mexicans just adapted the colours to 20th. Century culture.

21st. Century Native Style: San Francisco architects House+House take a page from Barragan's style to create "Casa de Las Estrellas" in the resort town of San Miguel de Allende. http://unfarodeideas.blogspot.com/2013/11/casa-de-las-estrellas-mexico.html

Andean Native girl, Bolivia  Photo by Ximena Bedregal (2010). http://www.mamametal.com/

Perhaps culture underwent a bastardisation to an unrecognisable state if you were to bring a 15th.C. Aztec back to life and show him what his country looks like now.  Yet the symbols endure. The Mexican Flag's coat of arms is in fact a sacred Mexica (Aztec) symbol - an eagle devouring a snake - the legend of how the Mexicas first found the place for their capital Tenuchtitlan (Mexico City).  Are Central Mexicans appropriating the symbols, because they are not racially Mexica any more? Should I be checking blood percentages before they can display the Aztec Calendar in their homes?

Why do I mention this? Because a great part of what we call "Mexican" or "Hispanic" or "Spanish" in North America is in reality a fusion of Native and European ethnicity, food and culture already... Native symbols and culture are right in front of your eyes!  Native skin colour is right in front of your eyes!  They are still here!  When aiming for Steampunk aesthetics, there is already a strong precedent for cultural mixing and people to play the part!  It will be very hard to pass the "lithmus test" to see if I'm entitled to wear this symbol or that symbol...

I just felt I needed to point this out, and we can look at Mr. Chicar's own thread at BG's Meta Clubs section,  "The Longhouse" for more details ...
 
http://brassgoggles.org/forum/index.php/topic,43181.0.html
« Last Edit: November 07, 2014, 08:45:09 pm by J. Wilhelm » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2014, 11:54:26 am »

An enlightening post Mr Wilhelm.
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chicar
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« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2014, 01:07:23 pm »

Oreo=Black people who wanted to be white.

My enumeration of slang terms was meant to indicate people , like me, who feel their born in the wrong race. I admit thought i only took oreo because i felt i lacked one last word and the term it slightly more pejorative.

And it don't decrease the value of J Whillelm's rant in no fashion. It was utmostly instructive and reassuring.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2014, 01:23:03 pm by chicar » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2014, 07:26:26 pm »

I simply do not believe in the concept of race. Nothing could be more replant to an upper class Englishman like myself than telling one he has some sort of commonality with the working classes, and on those grounds alone I have to reject the idea. Mark you there is culture, which is often confused with race, but in truth it is not the same thing at all.
Some cultures maybe more insular than others, but it is the interplay of cultures that enrich humanity. If you took away the items of clothing that are borrowed from other cultures very few people would have anything to wear at at all.
If British and Dutch Americans who did not like paying the same taxes as French Americans did not dress up as native Americans in Boston, They would still be drinking a Chinese drink made in India, as opposed to a South American Drink, often produced in Africa. We can therefore presume that as so early in the history of the USA that European Americans felt the need to dress up as native Americans this is a deep seated part of their culture. Probably caused by the realisation they are in fact Americans and a wish not to be that, but associate themselves with more developed and higher cultures.
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« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2014, 02:30:37 am »

Appropriation vs. Homage is always a tricky conversation, mostly because there isn't a consensus so it boils down entirely to opinion.
I feel that essentially that the thin red line is based on two factors:  education and respect.

The education factor might be illustrated thusly:  One Steampunk wants to cosplay as a Steampunk "Native American" and dons war-bonnet, bone choker, etc.  This person hasn't invested in educating themselves; it's the same person who speaks of "Native American Religion" or "Native American Culture" as if there weren't 600-plus distinct indigenous cultures with different languages, religions, values, etc.  The notable ignorance makes their endeavor less-than-empathetic and potentially insulting.
A Second Steampunk wants to cosplay as a Steampunk Lakota War-Chief, and therefore appropriately dons the war-bonnet and bone choker (with gears or something, I dunno) and can explain exactly why these various costume factors are important, what they mean, and essentially isn't just stereotyping.

The respect factor might be easier to pinpoint.  Metaphorically, is the cosplaying person in question an Eminem or are they in Minstrel-Show Blackface? I know that's an over-simplification, and the devil is in the details.

Ultimately, perhaps the thin red line boils down to a single factor, that being empathy.  If you're not Maori and you're dressed up as a Steampunk Maori and you meet a group of Maori folk, do they think your gear is cool and they're a bit flattered, or do they think you're a jackass dressed up in mockery?  Have you done your genuine best to put yourself in the shoes of the people you're emulating and looked at yourself critically?  If you're wearing the Moko of one of their great-grandfathers drawn on your face with eyeliner, you're haven't, and you're appropriating. >shrugs<

Basically, their feelings come first, your excitement about what u think is "so cool" comes second.
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« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2014, 03:56:50 am »

Seems like its easy enough to dress as someone from another culture without being offensive about it. Simply using the style of dress someone might wear in the period you choose and avoiding items of serious/religious significance. Its no different from say wearing a military uniform. Its perfectly fine to make the uniform thats identifiable without adding real medals and insignia that you haven't earned. Wearing say a feather headdress to me seems just as disrespectful as wearing a fake or unearned Medal of Honor, or even a family coat of arms or clan tartan of a family you don't belong to.

Its not like this is the SCA where you're going to lose point for not being 100% accurate.
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« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2014, 11:50:51 am »

To be less flippant, things are far more complex than they may seem on the surface. The tartan is not Scots and was only invented as a clan identification after the highland clearances, when the stories of the highland rebel were appealing to a wealthy often aristocratic audience. Who were often using the cleared land for shooting excursions to the wilderness and just wanted to be wrapped up in the romance of it all.
The traditional plaid of Scotland was like the Shetland or Faroe jumper different areas had different patterns, and had nothing to do with clan boundaries, and had more to do with what dyes could be found cheaply in each locality. As such the pattern of the plaid was only about where you bought it not about inheritance or a right to wear.
To step even further into controversy the black faced minstrel has a hidden history in England, which not many know about now and is presumed to be entirely racist. The hidden part though points in quite another direction. When the first minstrel shows for the US arrived in England, an ordinary person was still expected to tug their forelock to a person of breading. This action was about lowering the head to not meet eyes on an equal level, and well into the Victorian age villagers could be and were put into the stocks for not showing due respect to the gentry.
The chancellors office at this time could sensor anything being said on the stage in any theatre in Britain, As such any performer making references to the gentry being bad, corrupt etc would be quickly stamped on, because in England ordinary people were not allowed to speak out openly against the aristocracy. This is the background that the American black minstrel show came to.
Apart from the Singing in every minstrel show there were comedy sketches, Americans will probably know this as Amos and Andy, British people are more familiar with 'brer rabbit' the comedy was about the lesser often seemingly stupid character getting one over on the more intelligent. Now this was not censored by the Chancellors office because it was not about England but America, but for the British working class audience they could see the commonalities to their experience, of the down trodden getting one over the authority figure. This produced in the English working class a strong identification with the American Black culture, which may well have affected the American Civil war, and why the British did nothing about the blockade of cotton from the south, and even the British rock and roll of the sixties.
Sure taking another's culture can be seen often as a derogatory action but also we should hold in mind that often cross fertilisation is a strong force for good.   
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« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2014, 11:14:58 am »

At what point does something become cultural appropriation? and does it work both ways?

Here is a short list of things which have been adopted outside their original cultures.
Smoking tobacco
Drinking tea
Drinking coffee
Eating Pizza
Using electricity
and so on.

Now would anyone who complains about some 'non tribal' person wearing 'tribal' clothes or artifacts also say that only people of European descent can use motorized transport or electricity as to do so would be 'stealing from their culture? Hopefully not.

Where I have problems is when someone feels that they must look to another culture for something such as 'spirituality' as every culture has it's own spiritual tradition. I think it was Leonard Crow Dog who related the story of a white person who came and wanted to take part in ceremonies, He told them that as they were of Irish descent they should start looking for Leprichauns.

The key issue for me is that of 'respect', for example does the person know what something is and any meaning it has? is the item 'authentic' and did the person who made it get a fair price or is it a mass produced copy? It's only when you talk to the person that you find this out. Some of the more successful 19th century explorers were those who respected the people who's land they explored and adapted to local ways (not only did they not upset the locals but they were using the methods needed to live in a different place). A later example of this is T.E. Lawrence who adopted Arab dress and so was accepted by them.
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« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2014, 12:42:54 pm »

Two different issues to me really.

Cultures are dynamic and ever changing, influenced by both those within and without, not to mention the whole host of other factors that continue to shape and modify cultures subtly and not so subtly. Cultures are not set in aspic, they are not immotile. They're dynamic, varied and evolving things, though some do cling more dearly to tradition than others.

The monsterising, dehumanising or cliche packed guh fest of cultural stereotyping is a separate monster and Is best avoided at all costs by anyone with even a grain of creativity and/or self respect.

Respect for other cultures is incredibly important, as is accepting that as every culture has people in it and as such will have those open and happy to include outsiders and those less than friendly to those outside their communities.

When it comes to costuming respect is a pretty big thing (unless your intention is to offend of course). I'd do my best not to offend anyone of existing cultures by the use of symbols or items that are earned with a lot of merit and expect those of other cultures to be respectful of mine in return.


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« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2014, 05:47:05 pm »



Where I have problems is when someone feels that they must look to another culture for something such as 'spirituality' as every culture has it's own spiritual tradition. I think it was Leonard Crow Dog who related the story of a white person who came and wanted to take part in ceremonies, He told them that as they were of Irish descent they should start looking for Leprichauns.



Well, all this white buddhists would surely want to differ on this idea than religions should be reserved to one ethnicity. Hovewer as a white animist, i understand how it can be a bugger to enter a spirituality you don't be raising in. Native american traditions have this fun thing to not have clear sacred calendars, so you do not know how to practice. You end up hybriding multiple tradition across the world, fearing at each instant to offend when you wanted to honor ( hence this thread ^^).

Well, that until one of you kind sir and ladys give me access to the list of Huron-Wendat's holidays that is.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2014, 05:53:24 pm by chicar » Logged
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« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2014, 02:44:15 am »

It's important to note, whether you agree or not, that the general consensus amongst those of a progressive philosophy (with plenty of argument and plenty of room for argument) is that a big part of the appropriation playing field has to do with the power structure and status quo, i.e. there ISN'T an even playing field, so it's easier for an individual of what's understood to be the 'privileged' groups (hetero folk and/or white folk and/or male folk) to appropriate than it is for non-privileged groups.

It's true that if we lived in a truly egalitarian society this wouldn't be true, e.g whites would be no more guilty of appropriation than non-whites in X circumstance under Y conditions or whatever.  But we DON'T live in a truly egalitarian society, and power structure DOES change the game.

I'm not entirely sure where I as an individual stand on this particular issue, but again, it's important to note.  >shrugs<
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« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2014, 05:48:54 am »

I agree on the concept of not allowing ourselves to trivialise cultures which are perceived as non-priviledged.  I completely agree with Mr. Vagabond GentleMan on said point, and with Mr. Inflatable Friend on the importance of respecting culture.  However, as stated by Mr. Inflatable there is no such thing as a static or isolated culture, thus leading to the paradox of how hybrid people are supposed to not be insensitive to their ancestors, which is what Mr. Chicar refers to.

I would also like to point out that one must not be allowed to self-marginalise. I see that a lot among North American tribes.  Perceiving oneself to be underprivileged (and worse, taking advantage of said perception) is not a process that is limited to life outside of a tribe, but rather can be strongest within the tribe's boundaries. The worst thing that can happen is that you view your own culture with contempt - a problem not really known in the United States, but if you look South of the Border, historically it is widely suffered throughout the Americas even till present day, as a social order was established based on colour of skin in the 1600s.  While in (Political) North America this marginalization too the form of a sharp divide along racial lines, elsewhere in the Americas the marginalisation was more subtle, and yet far more pervasive as the racial lines blurred (and hence the relevance to Mr. Chicar's point).

You see, the Spaniards believed in racial mixing, since the time of the German Visigothic Kings in the former Roman colonies of Iberia, but that doesn't mean that they believed in equality, as the whiter you were, the more privileged you were.  They wanted to Hispanicise the continent and reach the stability of the Christian kingdoms of Spain.  The Hapsburg rulers of the New Spain simply followed suit as tradition demanded.  Unfortunately, the long term consequence of that quasi-caste system is one of self deprecation and depreciation, which has long lasting consequences.

Even after independence the social standards kept some people socially on top (leading to the Mexican "Revolution," that is their Civil War of 1910).  Being Mexican means understanding this painful process intimately and eternally pondering one's own identity. Subconsciously you want to be a blond and blue eyed European, but simultaneously carry the honour of the Aztec warrior and the majesty of Mayan scholar, but in the real world you are never able to achieve either standard, if that makes any sense at all.  Naturally most of the time you don't reach either of those standards.  I'm not sure if this psychological phenomenon is even known (let alone understood) outside of Latin America.  Often times this leads to a contradiction in Latin American society that strongly smells of hypocrisy.  When the tension grows too large you get another "Revolution," to try to bring some equality into society.

In the meantime many of the Native people of North America, those not lucky to survive intact until present day, were left to pick up the pieces of their own culture, scattered among the non-natives.  Often times these pieces are in the form of blood percentages left here and there, so you again have the same phenomenon of cultural and racial hybridisation - we just don't call it that in (Political) North America.  The saving grace being that perhaps you hold on to that original culture a little tighter since your tribe and family history is so much more harrowing.  But in doing so, a permanent psychosis is generated.  Its you against the world, defending your endangered identity as a Native.

It is very hard to pay proper homage to the Native Ancestors in this hyper-dynamic society, especially if you don't respect yourself.  And by that I mean respecting all sides of yourself.  Not just the White not just the Brown.  But all.  You have to accept yourself to pay homage to your ancestors.  This is just true for all American Natives.  The Spanish racial caste system and cultural whitewashing never existed in (Political) North America, and maybe because of that you claim to respect your North American Native heritage more than your Southern counterparts.  But in being proud, you have to make sure that you don't stereotype yourself to the point of turning yourself into a martyr (i.e. don't lick your wounds - instead, wear them proudly).

Nodding to Mr. Chicar's point I re-iterate that when you reach a certain level of mixing it becomes a very difficult proposition to be 100% properly respectful of your own background in either direction.  Half a millennium long scars of racial hierarchy can easily lead you into pigeon-hole yourself in the role of the "victim," when in fact you have far more power than that.  In the end, Natives all around the world are just people like everyone else.  We were all once Native somewhere, so you have the power to change things.

I'd like to think that Natives and their descendants have a role to play in the future, rather than just focusing on the past.  Perhaps it is up to the hybrid children of Natives to do just that.


Cheesy tourism board videos I found  Grin

Video: "Federal District" (i.e. Mexico, Federal District <-> Washington, District of Columbia)
Distrito Federal

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdkObmYehuM

« Last Edit: November 13, 2014, 09:41:16 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged
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« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2014, 09:41:08 pm »

The worst thing that can happen is that you view your own culture with contempt - a problem not really known in the United States...


I love your post, Wilhelm.  You're a scholar and a gent, most certainly.  Smiley

I do want to comment on this particular above statement, though.  Perhaps compared to the situation South of the Border it doesn't seem like we in the States don't view our own culture with contempt, but we certainly do, both amongst the privileged and non-privileged groups.

Amongst white, we KNOW very well of the phenomenon of "White Guilt".  Pretty much every mainstream Hollywood film about American Indians has the White Indian character to soothe the average white American's culturally instituted guilt, giving them a Goodguy character to relate to even though they're probably a conformist who would have been a "Badguy" if they'd lived during the era of Westward expansion or earlier.
Similar situation with American Civil War era-based entertainment media.  There's an egalitarian white hero in there somewhere to help the average white American deal with the White Guilt thing.
Black Power is something one can be proud of, Red Power is something one can be proud of, Brown Pride is a thing...but all of the white folk know that you can't be proud of being White and White Power is Badguy stuff (well, it IS badguy stuff, so...there's a good point there. >shrugs<).  So, even amongst the privileged groups there's some degree of self-contempt.

However, that really doesn't compare to the situation amongst black Americans.  The complex nature of the internal battle between black pride and self-loathing is a serious issue for a great number of black Americans.
For the first few years I lived in DC as an adult, I almost never interacted with a white person.  I was very much embraced by the black community.  I was the only white at my job from the bottom to the top of the hierarchy, all of the clients were black, all of the locals were black, etc.  So I came to be enlightened to a number of complicated and often paradoxical issues having to do with the interaction of black pride and self-contempt.  For instance, my best friend in this area to this day is a black fellow who grew up penniless in a SERIOUS ghetto, both in poverty and in an environment of violence, and pulled himself up by the bootstraps, got an education, became a small business owner, and is now comfortably successful.  When he uses the N-word, it can be VERY off-putting, because he's often NOT using it as a reclaimed term of brotherly endearment...he often uses it quite cruelly.  He's very proud of being a black man, ESPECIALLY a successful black man, but does a good deal to distance himself from 'those' black people, from his point of view.  The way he speaks, dresses, carries himself, etc. all betray some degree of cultural self-loathing right alongside his black pride.
Perhaps more interesting is the perception of lighter-skinned black folk by darker-skinned black folk.  On the one hand, the lighter-skinned (and especially lighter-eyed) black folk generally seem to be considered more sexually desirable.  But in the same moment that a darker black woman is swooning over a lighter-skinned feller, she and her darker-skinned male friends are wary that he might be somehow 'weaker'...probably coddled and sheltered by his mother and/or sisters and family, always given unfair advantages, etc.  Similarly, in the same moment that a darker-skinned black male is drooling over a lighter-skinned lady, he and his darker female friends might be telling what amount to 'dumb blond' jokes about her, metaphorically.
Those are in-culture stereotypes, they've no real basis in fact, of course...but they do betray some complex paradoxical co-existence of loving one's own culture whilst disdaining it as well.

I must disclaim that these ARE all outsider anecdotal observations, I do not pretend to fully understand the situation by any means.
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« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2014, 09:04:24 am »

Much obliged, Mr. Vagabond; it's good to know that my rants are appreciated.  Smiley

I want to answer this post, but I fear I'm guilty of derailing the thread. And further derailing, especially if I give you an anecdotal experience I have on the subject, which is a wonderful example of sociology, by the way.

I have a solution, however.  It seems to me that the discussion on the dynamics of Native and Hybrid-Native societies would probably fit better at Chicar's original thread, "The Longhouse" at the Meta-Club section.

With your permission at said thread, I'll re-quote (in large yellow letters as opposed to boxes for clarity) the 4 relevant posts that Mr. VG and I have posted (I don't mean to exclude comments by others, but I feel that appropriately others have kept ON TOPIC, whilst I have - as usual- digressed from the topic, my apologies on that).

So I will yield my answer to Mr. Vagabond GentleMan at this link below, and hopefully the deeper conversation will continue henceforth at said location:

http://brassgoggles.org/forum/index.php/topic,43181.msg920453.html#msg920453


« Last Edit: November 14, 2014, 01:09:39 pm by J. Wilhelm » Logged
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« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2014, 08:07:13 pm »

Historically speaking, there is a stereotype of some 19th century diplomats, soldiers, or traders who "went native" while stationed overseas by adopting native dress and practices. So there should be some acceptable way to portray "steamed" versions of such personas.

One of my favorites is Alexander Gardner who served as a kind of mercenary in Afghanistan and Punjab.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Gardner_%28soldier%29

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« Reply #17 on: November 15, 2014, 01:12:09 am »



 Over time white folk and Maori have  adopted various aspects of each others culture in New Zealand.  For good and bad Wink


Group of Māori in front of a Masterton meeting house, by James Bragge, 1865. Alexander Turnbull Library. PA7-30-16-2


Four women smoke pipes outside a meeting house in the King Country in 1885. Māori developed the habit of smoking tobacco in the early 19th century, through contact with the whaling community




 "Pakeha [White man] Maori for a day. "



Settler soldiers took on the ease of  the rāpaki. [ skirt or kilt]http://www.projectfreerange.com/category/people/



Wedding party, Wairarapa, 1909




 Wedding Nuie Island  in the Pacific 1948.  [ Polynesia & NZ have a strong cultural cross influence.]





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« Reply #18 on: November 15, 2014, 01:51:12 am »


Te Arikinui Dame Te Ātairangikaahu and her husband, Whatumoana Paki, welcome Queen Elizabeth to Tūrangawaewae marae, Ngāruawāhia, in 1974.



Opening of the Roman Catholic church at Oaro, Hundalee
[1906]
Seated in the centre of the group are His Grace Archbishop Redwood and Father Melu, the Maori missionary. The principal part of the erection of the church was done by the Beaton family, four generations of whom are shown in the group



 as may be hinted at in this cover image,  early intercultural marriages were always heartfelt.


Dressed in their best, Mere Cowan (née Whakamairu) and her husband Alexander, from the Wairarapa area, sit for their portrait in 1870 with their new baby, Pita (or Peter). It was a time when  Māori were declining in numbers and were widely expected to disappear altogether. Little Pita Cowan therefore represents a way for Māori to survive and, eventually, increase their numbers again.



Showing a portrait of the Reverend Frederick Augustus Bennett of the Anglican Maori Mission, with his first wife Hana Te Unuhi Mere Paaka (Hannah Mary Park) and child.  [ Missionaries and land speculators often  ditched their Maori wives and families   to  bring themselves  a wife from the British Isles]



 Early white settlers lived in  these huts also.






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« Reply #19 on: November 15, 2014, 02:06:51 am »

To me several of those photos in the last post is what I see as the problem. Not joining another culture, but doing the "maori for a day"-thing.
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« Reply #20 on: November 15, 2014, 04:23:43 am »

To me several of those photos in the last post is what I see as the problem. Not joining another culture, but doing the "maori for a day"-thing.

 Yes. Tokenism and as we call it in NZ,  "political correctness".
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« Reply #21 on: November 15, 2014, 12:24:51 pm »

No, that is not what I meant.
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« Reply #22 on: November 15, 2014, 09:35:39 pm »

No, that is not what I meant.

 Well  what ever did you mean Mr Atterton?

 Are you referring to the Fijian Indian girl in Maori  Club costume?  Her subversive Ginger friend? Or the Queen of England enjoying a parade?
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« Reply #23 on: November 16, 2014, 09:39:15 pm »

There is a very fine line between appropriation and proper homage.  However, sometimes the intention of the symbol bearer makes it plainly clear that he or she is paying proper homage to the culture.

I must apologise for this video is in Spanish, however, I trust the intention of the video is very clear.  

Music teacher 7-Deer, who identifies himself as a Mexica (Aztec), explains in the video that the Aztec music has been completely lost as there are no remnants of written music anywhere.  What they do have, however, is fossils and written accounts of music instruments, and descriptions of the dancers and apparel involved in ritual and secular life among the Aztec.  7-Deer goes on to explain  there are people who reconstruct the instruments based on archeological evidence and then they mist improvise as best they can to reproduce the style of dance of the Aztec.  He then shows several instruments, including the Huehuetl (drum - I actually played one of these in the school band  Cheesy)  as well as other hand-held drum, the Teponachtli (I actually owned one of these - I wonder what happened to it?  All those things were lost when we moved to the States...)

Musica Prehispanica


Surely a Mexican Steampunk could find a way to incorporate these instruments, or similar, into his Steampunk presentation without being disrespectful.  But it is a tricky proposition; my response at The Longhouse thread (see link above in my last post)  touches on the relationship of Non-Aztec (and specifically the European-white and Mestizo) children and sociology in Modern Mexico (my own experience at school).

You have to image imagine a bunch of rich, mostly white Mexican kids playing the Huehuetl and Teponachtli in their school band, because I actually did just that when I was at elementary school.  This is not any different than Ms. Hurricane Annie's last picture featuring the white kid's dressed in Maori-style attire.

I don't think I can tack any of these children, modern day Kiwis and Mexican white kids as being disrespectful.  Quite the contrary, it is paying homage to the culture.  You also have to be open to non-Natives to partake of your culture.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2014, 11:45:24 pm by J. Wilhelm » Logged
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« Reply #24 on: November 16, 2014, 10:59:30 pm »

There is another aspect to think about, just being of a society does necessarily mean that an individual is in tune with their society. Coming from a family of artists I was to an extent brought up to be a least slightly separate from English society. Now to me personally As a boy I found myself watching cowboy films and would much more readily identify with the south American characters than the traditional all American John Wayne type. thus my role models would be Manolito in the High Chaparral, or actors like Cesar Ramero, and Gilbert Roland (who had to have an Anglicised name so that he could play Mexicans). Now I know where that all comes from is the worst sort of cultural appropriation, but the meaning it has come to have for me personally in a third society has I think taken on new meanings quite different from the Hollywood originals. I know that is just about me and I am a bit daft to, but. . . .
Hitler hated what he called none settled peoples, and one of the groups he spat his venom at were the American plains Indians. In Germany it became impossible to criticise directly the Nazi party. However there was a strong underground movement in Germany which grew in the thirties and lasted well into the sixties of groups of people dressing as Indians and having meetings where they camped and lived as they thought plains Indians might. On one hand we could say they had no right to do that, but I think it was a very clever comment on the situation they found themselves in and after the war an affirmation of where they wanted to be.

PS, I am sorry that I have invoked Godwin's rule that should a conversation go on long enough somebody sooner or later will mention Hitler.
I apologise.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2014, 11:05:39 pm by jonb » Logged
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