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Author Topic: Steampunk Vs Cultural Appropriation  (Read 7669 times)
MWBailey
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« Reply #75 on: December 14, 2014, 07:13:46 am »

Have we spent enough time picking on Miss Nighthawk yet? This is getting old fast.

Pardon the double post.
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« Reply #76 on: December 15, 2014, 11:54:05 am »

With the mixing, cultural identities will change, because culture itself will be mixed.  And the politics of race will also change too, as the Spanish knew from their own ancestors, the Visigoths, when they established what I call "The Visigothic Order" after the fall of Roman Empire and enforced that in Spain, and later the Viceroyalty of New Spain.
I quite agree with you, Mr Wilhelm. However I quoted you on this just to say, you speak of "Visigothic Order" in a maybe to simplistic way.
After all, we northeners (let's call me a Basque, even if my origins are all over the continent) were a mixture of Celts, Iberians, Basques, Romans, Vikings and Visigoths slowly - 8 centuries, it took - retaking the power from the muslims on a country full of a mixture of more Celts, Romans, Visigoths and Iberians, plus Fenitians, Greeks, Cartaginese, Berbers, Arabs, Jews, etc*. It's probably due to this mixture that in Spain we didn't talk as much of races as of religions, you had to be "cristiano viejo", old christian - meaning no muslims or jews in your recent predecessors, often demonstrated by eating pork with everything.
On a side note, I believe when we finished our 8-centuries-long internal war, the "Reconquista", the logical next step was to take all these soldiers out, hence the Flanders wars, the conquest of the Americas, etc.

*I do not mention the Gipsies because arguably they have never really mixed, only coexisted.
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« Reply #77 on: December 15, 2014, 01:10:27 pm »

With the mixing, cultural identities will change, because culture itself will be mixed.  And the politics of race will also change too, as the Spanish knew from their own ancestors, the Visigoths, when they established what I call "The Visigothic Order" after the fall of Roman Empire and enforced that in Spain, and later the Viceroyalty of New Spain.
I quite agree with you, Mr Wilhelm. However I quoted you on this just to say, you speak of "Visigothic Order" in a maybe to simplistic way.
After all, we northeners (let's call me a Basque, even if my origins are all over the continent) were a mixture of Celts, Iberians, Basques, Romans, Vikings and Visigoths slowly - 8 centuries, it took - retaking the power from the muslims on a country full of a mixture of more Celts, Romans, Visigoths and Iberians, plus Fenitians, Greeks, Cartaginese, Berbers, Arabs, Jews, etc*. It's probably due to this mixture that in Spain we didn't talk as much of races as of religions, you had to be "cristiano viejo", old christian - meaning no muslims or jews in your recent predecessors, often demonstrated by eating pork with everything.
On a side note, I believe when we finished our 8-centuries-long internal war, the "Reconquista", the logical next step was to take all these soldiers out, hence the Flanders wars, the conquest of the Americas, etc.

*I do not mention the Gipsies because arguably they have never really mixed, only coexisted.

Naturally. I didn't mean to imply there were only Visigoths.  And that is a very good point you make that the distinction was more a religious one than an ethnic one in Old Spain.  Concepts of race as we know them today simply did not exist in ancient times or in the early mediaeval period, for example.

I speak of it in general terms, because I don't want to overfocus on an ethnography lesson (I do that too often).  I speak on the issue of present day ethnic relations in Mexico a bit further in the posts I made in Chicar's thread (although I don't touch on Old Spanish ethnography), at the "The Longhouse" (in Meta-Clubs - I think I gave a link in one of my rebuttals/posts above).

The Visgoths came into power in a land full of Celts, Romans, Basques, and traces of Phoenicians, Greeks and Cartaginese, etc. which you mention. Hispania was Roman territory that was taken over bit by bit, then lost to the Muslim and then taken back bit by bit again over the 8 centuries of the Reconquista.  The Roman and Moorish eras population was very diverse, indeed.

But I'm really referring to the political order that Spain inherited from the time that the Visigoths arrived, because I argue that a particular socio-cultural order which was born under the Visigothic kings was carried over from Spain to the Americas, and then that translated into the hierarchy that the Spanish chose to populate the New Spain with Spanish blood (poliza de mestizaje).  It seems to me that in the New Spain, the Spanish Crollos became the same as the "Old Christians" were in Spain, while the Mestizo and Native population took the place of the "New Christians," Moorish an Jews, along with their social hierarchy prior to 1492. Does that make sense?  I contend that New Spain's society was inspired, not surprisingly, on the older Spanish social order structures - it was just repeated again and "engineered" with a complex quasi-caste system designed to "Hispanicise" the continent.

Typically history from the two periods, in formative Spain, and then the subsequent social engineering in the Viceroyalty of New Spain are either taught very superficially, or not at all in the US, which makes it very challenging for me to explain modern Mexican/Latin American "socio-ethno-cultural" patterns to an American audience.

Often times American audiences are overly focused on the Moorish-Era aspect of Spanish culture and ignore just about everything else, because pre-college level education on the subject is downright scarce or null (i.e. When I ask around I often find this level of understanding: "The Spanish were part Moorish and part European, came into Mexico and 'wham-bam thank you ma'am' married the Natives, and now you have all people who look exactly the same and all are exactly half Spanish and half Native - and that is all there is to Mexico."

So at that level of understanding there is no social structure whatsoever in Mexico, no ethnic differences - And you can't have Natives, nor Europeans, nor anything else more complex than "they are all the same." Worse, the Natives are sometimes assumed to be all but gone, reduced to extremely small numbers (blame it on "all of them dying of smallpox during the Conquest"), or killed off leaving fractional percentages of blood as they are in (political) North America.  I raise eyebrows when I tell people that almost 1/3 of the population in Mexico is still full-Native.

So this makes for very heated and often contentious arguments, because reality goes against social and political expectations that non-Mexicans can have about the Mexican people.  Sometimes the argument is not about the existence of Natives, but rather the political or social relationship that the Mexican Natives have with Europeans and how they see themselves, and that can lead to a heated argument, such as the one I just had in this thread above.

Basically, when speaking of Latin America, and Spain in relation to colonial times, I often find myself giving ethnography lessons to my audience as far back as Roman times as a preamble to social structure discussions.  It makes for very long explanations  Undecided

It's very frustrating when you are trying to explain what modern Mexico really looks like, because far too many prejudices are being levied against the Mexican people, culturally, historically, ethnically and otherwise (and that is even ignoring the politics migration and illegal drug criminal activity and such which you hear on the news). It's impossible to explain anything about present day Natives in Mexico if all the other stuff is not even understood among your audience...

This is really hard work!  Undecided

« Last Edit: December 15, 2014, 01:39:50 pm by J. Wilhelm » Logged

jonb
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« Reply #78 on: December 31, 2014, 08:57:10 pm »

SO how about this for cultural appropreation.
WIth threads on Tiki style and Viking, celts etc How about Zulus?

The Zulu King was impressed with the Chippendale chairs the Europeans brought with them and ordered his carpenters to make chairs in a similar style. The problem for the Zulu carpenters were the termites which ate every bit of wood in contact with the ground. So traditional carpentry carved  from large pieces of wood as these lasted the longest and as termites would get into any joints it was pointless using things like dovetail joints Zulus carved from a single piece of wood.
So these chairs are the outcome of Zulu appropriation of Eighteenth century English furniture.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

I love these chairs and other similar examples I have seen. I love people developing their versions of other peoples ideas.  
« Last Edit: December 31, 2014, 08:59:55 pm by jonb » Logged
creagmor
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« Reply #79 on: January 01, 2015, 08:59:03 am »

I have found this post quite interesting, and have a few questions and comments that I would like to share. First I am a American with mostly Anglo-Celtic ancestry. However as my father's family arrived there in the late 1600s I'm sure there have been other groups in my background. I have been exposed to various cultures by virtue of my hitch in the US Navy (Mobile Construction Battalion #3), worked with people from Mexico, and areas farther south,and I have lived in South Africa for several years. I have found that the more I have travelled, the more I have found the same kind of people wherever I go.There have been various cultures that, quite frankly, leave me cold, but that does not affect (effect?) my view of, nor my relationship, with these people.

Before I moved to Africa I heard about Kwanza. After six years - including my time with people from Botswana, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe; I have yet to find one person who is familiar with this holiday. Here a person with a mixed black/white racial background is called "colored", and I have never found it to be used in a pejorative manner, although there is a term here that is equivalent to the N- word, that is quite disrespectful.     

I have read comments in various posts that express opposition of wearing medals, etc that one has not earned. Ought not this also apply to ranks and titles that one really has no authority to use? On this I am quite open to correction.   

Finally, to slightly misquote an old Latin proverb: "In matters of opinion debate if futile", they always seem to generate more heat than light. And then there's that old saw, "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still".
     
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J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #80 on: January 01, 2015, 03:53:20 pm »

I think the major complication (BTW your use of affect is correct), is when you have massive racial mixing.  Differentiation beyween "us" and "them" becomes inappropriate, because you can't dictate to a person who, say is 1/2 Spanish and 1/2 Native or better yet, one quarter French, one quarter Spanish one quarter Italian and one quarter Native that he is "not white" or "not native". That person is all of the above!

Typically, around the globe, the distinction between "white" and "coloured" is one that was brought by the white man - under a different name perhaps), at times and conditions when a clear social status difference was being imposed on them, such as slavery, indentured servitude, etc.  Even the most benign system, what I call the "Visigothic Order" in mainland Spanish America, implied that the shade in your colour of skin was directly proportional to your legal rights in society (25 "castes" by the 1700's), even if racial mixing was promoted by the state as a means of "hispanisation" of the continent.  The system of racial separation became absurd at a time when the Viceroyalty of New Spain was approaching it's current ethnic distribution (in today's terms 30% native, 60% mixed native+white, 10% white).

Not to mention the effect of independence.  Without the cultural subjugation from Spain, it really became absurd to hold that old caste system.  By the late 1800's even the Spanish migration into Mexico had greatly slowed down and was replaced by French and Italian and many other non-Hispanic nationalities, changing the landscape of the "top classes.".

I ignore how that translates to Africa, especially since the racial separation is much stronger and had a history of not just a VERY strong social stratification but assigned a clear distinction to one single group that was actively maintained in a considerably purer state, namely the white colonists.  It really depends on your own history.  Keep in mind Mexican society started forming in the first 1/3 of the 1500's. It's close to 500 years now.  What will South Africa look like in say 350 years from today?  What will the US look like in say 150 years from today?
« Last Edit: January 02, 2015, 05:39:33 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged
jonb
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« Reply #81 on: January 01, 2015, 04:11:33 pm »

Sorry my mistake, please remove.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2015, 04:17:39 pm by jonb » Logged
J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #82 on: January 01, 2015, 04:24:16 pm »

Sorry my mistake, please remove.

I stand corrected (maybe not? Cape Town was founded in 1652 according to Wiki  Grin - were playing a game of "tag" here  Grin) but again, we need to take a look at the way in which society was established.  That would make the British colonies of Jamestown, Plymouth, etc., contemporary within a few decades to Cape Town.   Also note slavery was abolished in the mid 1600's in mainland Spanish America (under the name of "Encomienda"), but slave trade was kept alive in the Caribbean until the United States abolished slavery in 1865 (officially in December 1865, with the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution).  Clearly the US and South Africa evolved differently to one another and much more so when compared to Mexico and Latin America. The difference lies in the policy applied by the colonial power who enforced that social engineering.  By the way, my understanding is that the word "Coloured" is used in South Africa as a mixed racial ancestry category, much the same way we use the word "Mestizo" in contemporary Latin America...
« Last Edit: January 01, 2015, 04:45:51 pm by J. Wilhelm » Logged
jonb
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« Reply #83 on: January 01, 2015, 05:56:21 pm »

Slavery in the Caribbean until the USA well it is true to an extent, in that the USA was the last to abolish it, but I am uncomfortable with dates and what is and is not slavery. For instance Russian naval ships did board and free slaves from slaving ships, but at the same time in Russia Serfdom was still in practice which meant a land owner had rights of ownership over the people who worked that land.
The British freed slaves before the southern states of the USA. but like the USA this meant no new slaves could be imported, for many ex-slaves they were as still as much tied to the fields they had worked as slaves as ever they were, and in some ways their conditions got worse because they represented no monetary value to the owner, it was not in the landowners interests to bother about the health of his workers as it had been to look after something he could sell.
Also I think it is worth mentioning as we are talking about the Caribbean, the British practice of sweeping orphans urchins and other children off the streets of British cities and exporting them to work camps in the colonies or at that time to sell them to slave owners. Many People of Caribbean origin are descended at least in part from these British slave children. It may also surprise many people this practice did not end until the 1970's when Australia closed the last of these camps.   
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« Reply #84 on: January 01, 2015, 06:20:20 pm »

Sadly, slavery in the wide sense of the word is still happening today.  It is a difference of qualitative nature, because even though widely outlawed, it is still practiced today.  The slavery definition I used is really based on the legally sactioned systems of the various eras, which served to structure society. Social engineering, colonial style.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2015, 05:44:29 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged
creagmor
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« Reply #85 on: January 02, 2015, 12:39:25 am »

As for the racial make up in South Africa, the most common concept of those I have encountered in the US is bascily black and white (no pun intended). Though still obviously minorities there are quite a number of Chinese, and many Indians and Pakistanis. Although it is not a part of South Africa, Mauritius has a very large Indian population. I believe they make up about one third of the population. 

As for slavery on this continent, some of the biggest slave traders were Africans. Well into the 1700s North African countries were busy raiding coastal areas of Europe for potential slaves. A huge majority of those were forced to convert to Islam under pain of death. Also it was not unknown for blacks to sell those of warring tribes to Europeans, (mostly British and Dutch) rather than kill them, in order to fill their coffers.     
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jonb
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« Reply #86 on: January 02, 2015, 01:33:15 am »

My brother in law's family comes from South Africa, and his family are mainly of Portuguese extraction, So they were classed white, but would never go as a family to the beach, in case the sun turned their skins too dark, and they would get hassle for being in the wrong zone.
An even more mad story about the racial laws, was from an Art director I worked with 30 years ago who was a six foot blond Welshman who went to work in South Africa and ended up marrying a South African Malay-Chinese girl. Now the Chinese did not directly fit into racial laws, because at times Chinese were encouraged to go to the colony and at other times they were not wanted. Most Chinese were classed Asian, but a few were classed white, a few classed cape coloured, and even black. Brian my friend was when he married thus classified cape coloured so he could mix with most of his wife's family. Being devoutly catholic they would return most years to visit her family and often with a new child. Which they would get registered to get a South African passport for the child. Brian told me laughing how at passport control they would all back away from having to assess the race of his children.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2015, 01:37:30 am by jonb » Logged
creagmor
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« Reply #87 on: January 03, 2015, 03:41:22 pm »

Yes; fortunately this sort of thing has been rendered obsolete, to the best of my knowledge.   
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« Reply #88 on: January 03, 2015, 05:50:38 pm »

Even when strong political change comes, the social "hangups" tend to linger from many decades even centuries.  I wrote about some of this in the last one or two pages of "The Longhouse" thread at the Meta-Clubs section.  In Mexico, you still have a strong social preference for European background, socially speaking, even after more than 200 years of independence, more than 160 after the first Native Mexican president (Benito Juarez -- their "Obama" at the time).  The social change was abrupt and radical providing a new upward mobility highway for the lower classes, but by the 1980's you still saw a preponderance of white people, at the top Burgoise classes, and a TV marketing machine aimed at whiter looking folk.  So much that Americans were often mystified by it, when comparing to their own
stereotypes of the Mexican folk. I wrotea little about my 1980's childhood in the top classes...
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Rory B Esq BSc
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« Reply #89 on: January 03, 2015, 06:23:10 pm »

How much does it matter?
A few weeks ago we had a local Steampunk 'meet up', and despite my heritage (Irish revolutionary who had a 'hunger striker' at his 21st birthday) I didn't shoot either of the 2 local Police Steampunks who turned up.

And guess what...they didn't arrest me for my Victorian revolutionary badges either.

So Steampunk wins over 'cultural appropriation, race, gender, religion or whatever.
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creagmor
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« Reply #90 on: January 04, 2015, 12:36:27 pm »

I'm not really much of a history student, so I could be wrong about this, but it seems as though that this generation is more easily offended than preceding ones. It's almost as though a number of people are looking for reasons to be offended. Years ago I was working as a "greeter" at a well known chain store. The line for returns was beginning to block the entrance, so I asked the people to move closer to the wall, allowing better access for incoming customers. A gentleman of a minority group took offence and attempted to chastise me because he felt I was singling him, but he just happened to be one of the people at whom I was looking as I scanned the queue while making my request. At other times I have encountered people of this same group who claimed that they were being accused of misbehaver merely because of their ethnic background.   
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jonb
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« Reply #91 on: January 04, 2015, 01:29:42 pm »

If I had a four hundred year (plus) history of being suppressed because of something as stupid as the colour of my skin, when somebody barked orders at me I might well be inclined to question if that suppression was coming back, even if I was told it had been ended officially.
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« Reply #92 on: January 04, 2015, 08:56:31 pm »

Indeed, the consequences are long lasting, but doubly harmful because people from formerly colonial-era subjugated groups can acquire "chip on a shoulder" syndrome.  I found this is true for some Mexicans as well especially of the far left-leaning political persuasion, who took to equating all things Spanish (names, religion, customs, food), with "evil European" repression, and go as far as rejecting their own Spanish names (even though they are not 100% Native), and espousing an "everything white is evil" rhetoric.  In Mexico's case that is also directly tied to class, thus a perfect exploitable war cry by politicians.

Mexican people have their cultural hangups, but thankfully the majority settled into a new identity (Mestizo), free of most of the worst hangups (licking of old wounds), and there are, sadly, a few lingering "self image" issues (e.g. the caucasian look is an ideal, even if it's perfectly impossible for most people, this perpetuates a subconcious favoritism toward Caucasian and light skinned Mexicans).  These are mass psychology effects that take many decades if not centuries to fix.

Oddly enough, one might think that "fixing" the problem by assigning a "new national colour" might be the answer, for example, a political idea introduced in the 1960s was the concept of Mexicans as a "Bronze Race." The concept didn't take hold, because Mexicans don't see themselves as really "separate" from Caucasians, something that often perplexes Americans.  Key to understanding this mentality is realizing three things:

1. Americans have not abandoned the idea of skin colour as a defining social identifier. We in the USA subconsciously classify ourselves by colour ad nauseam, reminding me of football team mentality; we have the "Hispanic" team, the "Asian" team, the "Native" team, etc... All together but separate. As we say, we are not like a melting pot, but rather more like a tossed salad.  This is reflected in government forms, for example.  In the USA we use racial classification often to "repair past injustices" by way of targeted social services and such.  

2. Mestizo Mexicans and Native Mexicans never had the benefit of such social services.  There never was a campaign to "repair past injustices." The reparation came in the form of politics at the time of independence in 1810-21 and later Revolution of 1910.  And given that social status was linked to colour of skin it was always impolite to directly ask the question of racial pedigree.

3. Mexicans have a strong percentage of European blood and even a stronger percentage of Spanish culture. They understand they are different, but they don't see themselves as " totally unrelated" to Europe technically and culturally. They take hybridization for granted, being a 500 year old phenomenon for them. Being a hybrid society, and being the majority in their own country for the last 200 years, they have been releasing the grip of colour of skin as a qualifier. Literally there is no competition.  Everyone is related to everyone else.

Simply and bluntly put, for those perplexed by the Mexican point of view,  I can say that it may be difficult for them to understand how one can be two things (or more) at the same time, but only because those perplexed people can't release their own colour of skin as a major qualifier for their own identity.

And the latter point is very important for it signifies the greatest measure of healing: When you stop seeing yourself as a colour of skin, thus putting all of your ancestry (native, white, etc) on equal footing, and you start seeing yourself as a person, only qualifying your ancestry by deeds instead of stereotypes, then you will have healed from this colonial psychological trauma.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2015, 06:02:03 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged
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