@magnumlitany
The little house on Silverbridge Street

Mostly reblogs of stuff I like. Mostly SFW, but not always.

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2021-09-22 18:37:20

    omg OK SO this may be a long shot, but tldr im trying to find my friend from back in hs via the internet so i can thank her for what she did not know she was doing at the time, but essentially saving my life through an incredibly traumatic, on-going event at the time.

    this would have been during the years from abt 2011 or 12 and roughly 2016. her screen name was lilly-wolfe and i always called her Lilly, she would have known me by the name Bry or Max/Maxwell, possibly my screen name would have been epixVSepics? But i had several during the time we talked

    we had a very very in-depth madoka magica roleplay on a Google doc together, my characters were Midori, Touya and Yumi and hers were Ameyu, Kiyomi and Suzuki. i think we abt the same age, which would have been 12-14ish at the time of meeting each other.

    going to mass tag, sorry, but this November is the 5th year anniversary of my escape from a really traumatic situation that she got me through/saved my life from and its so fucking important to me to be able to let her know this and show my thanks/how much she means to me 🥺🥺🥺going to mass tag w fandoms her and i shared/stuff i know she was into!

    If you could please reblog so more people see this, that would be so so so great!!! 🥺🥺🥺

    Crafting A Fantasy Culture, or the fallacies of using culture in the singular

    The world is an interdependent place.

    A lot of Western writers will look at the need to diversify their writing and try to cherry pick outside cultures to add. They then come to us with a laundry list of questions about what they’re allowed to change about those cultures because, well, they didn’t pull from a broad enough context.

    The thing about researching individual cultures is: you’re never going to be researching just one culture. You’re going to be researching all the cultures they interacted with, as well.

    Cultures are made by interacting with other cultures. So you cant simply plop a singular culture into a fantasy world and expect it to work. There is too much outside influence on that culture for you to get a holistic picture by researching the culture in isolation.

    Instead, you need to ask yourself, “what environments made them, and how much of their surrounding contexts do I need to add to my fantasy world to make this genuine respectful representation?”

    And before you say that you can’t possibly do that, that is too much research, let me introduce you to the place you’re already doing it but don’t realize:

    Stock Fantasy World 29

    Aka, fantasy Europe.

    It gets ragged on a lot, but let’s take a minute to look at the tropes that build this stock fantasy world.

  • Snow
  • 4 seasons
  • Boars, pigs, wolves, dogs, pine trees, stone
  • Castles
  • Sheep
  • Knights
  • A king
  • Farming based economy
  • Religion plays a pretty big role in life
  • All fairly generic fantasy Europe tropes. But if you look more closely, you’ll notice that this is painting a picture of Fantasy Germany/the Netherlands, with perhaps a dash of France and/or England in there, all of it vaguely Americanized (specifically the New England area) because there’s usually potatoes and tomatoes. The geographic region is pretty tight, and it just so happens to mesh with the top three superpowers of upper North America, and arguably the English speaking world.

    But let’s keep going.

  • They import stuff. Like fine cloth, especially silk, along with dyes & pigments
  • These things are expensive from being imported, so the nobility mostly have them
  • There’s usually a war-mongering Northern People invading places
  • If brown people exist they are usually to the East
  • There might be a roaming band of nomadic invaders who keep threatening things
  • There is, notably, almost no tropical weather, and that is always to the South if it’s mentioned
  • There might be an ocean in the South that leads to a strange forgien land of robed people to survive a desert (or did I just read too much Tamora Pierce?)
  • And, whoops, we have just accidentally recreated European history in its full context.

    The Northern people are Norse, and their warring ways are indicative of the Viking Invasion. The imports hint at Asia, namely the Ottomans and India, and the silk road. The roaming invaders are for Mongolian Khanate. The ocean and tropical weather in the South hints at Spain, Greece, and the Mediterranean. And the continent of robed people indicates North Africa, and/or Southwest Asia.

    Suddenly, stock fantasy world 29 has managed to broad-strokes paint multiple thousands of years of cultural exchange, trade, wars, invasions, and general history into a very small handful of cultural artifacts that make up throwaway lines.

    Europe As Mythology And You

    European history is what’s taught in Western classrooms. And a lot of European history is painted as Europe being a cultural hub, because other places in the world just aren’t talked about in detail—or with any sort of context. Greece and Rome were whitewashed; the Persian and Ottoman empires were demonized; North Africans became the enemy because of their invasion of Spain and the fact many of them were not-Christian; the Mongolian Khanate was a terrible, bloodthirsty culture whose only goal was destruction.

    But because all of these parts did interact with Europe and were taught in history class, writers crafting a fantasy Europe will automatically pull from this history on a conscious or subconscious level because “it’s what makes sense.”

    The thing is, despite people writing European fantasy subconsciously recreating European history, they don’t actually recreate historical reality. They recreate the flattened, politically-driven, European-supremacist propaganda that treats every culture outside of Europe as an extra in a movie that simply exists to support Europe “history” that gets taught in schools.

    As a result of incomplete education, a lot of people walk away from history class and believe that cultures can be created in a vacuum. Because that’s the way Europe’s history was taught to them.

    Which leads to: the problem with Fantasy World 29 isnt “it’s Europe.” It’s the fact it’s an ahistorical figment of a deeply colonial imagination that is trying to justify its own existence. It’s homogeneous, it only mentions the broader cultural context as a footnote, it absolutely does not talk about any people of colour, and there’s next to no detailing of the variety of people who actually made up Europe.

    So writers build their Fantasy World 29 but they neglect the diversity of religion and skin tone and culture because it’s unfamiliar to them, and it was never taught to them as a possibility for history.

    While “globalization” is a buzzword people throw around a lot to describe the modern age, society has been global for a large portion of human history. There were Japanese people in Spain in the 1600s. Polynesians made it to North America decades if not centuries before Columbus did. There are hundreds more examples like this. 

    You can absolutely use fantasy to richen your understanding of Europe, instead of perpetuating the narratives that were passed down from victor’s history. People of colour have always existed in Europe, no matter what time period you’re looking at, and unlearning white supremacist ideas about Europe is its own kind of diversity revolution.

    Travel is Old and People Did It Plenty

    Multiculturalism is a tale as old as time. And while some populations were very assimilationist in their rhetoric, others were very much not. They would expand borders and respect the pre-existing populations, or they would open up networks to outsiders to become hubs of all the best the world had to offer. Even without conscious effort, any given place was building off of centuries of human migration because humans covered the globe by wandering around, and people have always been people.

    Regardless, any time you have a group of people actively maintaining an area, they want to make travelling for themselves easier. And the thing about making travelling for yourself easier is: it made travel for outsiders just as possible. By the time you reach the 1200s, even, road, river, and ocean trade networks were thriving.

    Sure, you might be gone for a year or three or five because the methods were slow, but you would travel. Pilgrimages, trade routes, and bureaucratic administrative routes made it possible for people to move around.

    And also, soldiers and war did really good jobs of moving people around, and not all of them went back “home.” Hence why there have been African people in England since the Roman empire. When you have an empire, you are going to take soldiers from all over that empire; you aren’t going to necessarily pull from just the geographic region immediately surrounding the capital. 

    Yes, the population that could travel was smaller than it is now, because land needed to be worked. But Europe isn’t the be all end all in how much of its population needed to be in agriculture in order to function; the Mughals, for example, had 80% of their population farming, compared to over 90% for Europe in the same time period. That’s an extra 10% of people who were more socially free to move around, away from their land. Different cultures had different percentages of people able to travel.

    This isn’t counting nomadic populations that relied on pastoralism and horticulture who didn’t actually settle down, something a lot of history tends to ignore because cities are easier to discuss. But nomadic populations existed en masse across Eurasia, and they took cultural traditions all over the continent.

    Just because it wasn’t fast doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. And just because a lot of Europeans couldn’t travel because of the agricultural demands of the continent, doesn’t mean every other culture was as tied to settlements. 

    Multiculturalism and Diffusion

    While each individual culture is unique, and you can find pockets of difference anywhere, cultures exist on a sliding scale of broad customs across the globe. Greece and Turkey will have more in common than China and England, because the trade routes were much closer and they shared central rulership for multiple hundreds of years.

    This is why we keep saying it’s important to keep cultures with other cultures close to them. Because those are the natural clusters of how all of the cultures involved would be formed. The proper term for this is cultural diffusion, and it happened all the time. Yes, you could get lots of people who had their own unique customs to set themselves apart. But they had the same natural resources as the dominant group, which meant they couldn’t be completely and totally alien.

    Even trade influence wouldn’t produce the same results in two places. When Rome imported silks from China, they rewove them to be a different type of fabric that was lighter and more suited to their climate. Then the Romans sold the rewoven silk back to China, who treated it differently because they’d woven it the first way for a reason. They didn’t talk to each other directly because of how the Silk Road was set up at the time, either, so all they had were the goods.

    And people automatically, subconsciously realize this whenever they write Fantasy World 29. They put like cultures with like cultures in Europe. Because even if they weren’t really taught to see the rest of the world as anything more than a footnote, they still transfer those footnotes to their fantasy.

    The problem is, people don’t realize the gradient of customs. In the modern day, Greece and Turkey are different countries, with histories that are taught in totally different frameworks (Greece as an appropriated white supremacist “ancient land” that all Western European societies are descendent from, Turkey as a land of brown people that were Muslim and therefore against the Good Christian Europe), so it’s really easy to ignore all of their shared history.

    People often fought for the right to rule (or even exist) in a place, which deeply impacted the everyday people and government. Ancient Persia is a fantastic example of this, because it covered huge swaths of land and was a genuinely respectful country (it took over a deeply disrespectful country); had it not been for Cyrus the Great deciding that he would respect multiculturalism, the Second Temple wouldn’t have been rebuilt in Jerusalem. 

    You can’t homogenize an area that was never homogenous to begin with. Because there was a ton of fighting and sometimes centuries-old efforts to preserve culture in the face of all this fighting (that sometimes came with assimilation pressure). Dominant groups, invading groups, influencing groups, and marginalized groups have always existed in any given population. See: Travel is Old above. See: people have always been people and wandered around. Xenophobia is far, far older than racism ever will be, because xenophobia is simply “dislike of Other” and humans love crafting “us vs them” dynamics.

    This lack of unity matters. It’s what allows you to look at a society (especially one with a centralized government) and see that it is made up of people that are different. It leads you to asking questions such as: 

  • Who was persecuted by this group?
  • Did the disliked group of people exist within their borders, or were they driven away and are now enemy #1?
  • What was their mindset on diversity?
  • How did they handle others encroaching on what they saw as their territory?
  • People do different things across different households, let alone hundreds of miles away. You wouldn’t expect someone from a rich, white area of California to behave the same way as someone from a middle-class immigrant neighbourhood from NYC. I’m sure, if you looked at your own city, you would scoff at the concept of someone mistaking your city for one five hours away, because when you know them, they’re so different.

    So why do you expect there to be only one type of person anywhere else?

    Cultural and Geographic Context Matters

    A region’s overreacting culture (either determined by groups of people who mostly roam the land, or a centralized government) and their marginalized cultures determine the infighting within a group, even if the borders remain the same.

    Persecution and discrimination are just as contextual as culture. Even if the end result of assimilation and colonialism was the same, the expectations for assimilation would look different, and what they had been working with before would also look different. You can’t compare Jewish exile from various places in Europe with Rromani exiles in Europe, and you definitely can’t compare them with the Hmong in Southeast Asia. They came from different places and were shaped by different cultures.

    A culture that came from a society that hated one particular aspect of them will not format all—if they’re placed in a dominant culture that doesn’t find their cultural norms all that persecution-worthy. And the way they were forced to assimilate to survive will play into whatever time period you’re dealing with, as well; see the divide of Jewish people into multiple categories, all shaped by the resources available in the cultures they stayed in the longest.

    You cant remove a culture’s context and expect to get the same result. Even in a culture that doesn’t wholesale have an assimilationist agenda, you can still get specific prejudices and scapegoats that happen when there’s a historical precedent in the region for disliking a certain group. 

    Once you start cherry picking what elements of a culture to take—because you’ve plunked the !Kung into Greece and need to modify their customs from the desert to a tropical destination —you’re going to end up with coding that is absolutely positively not going to land. 

    Coding is a complex combination of foods, clothing, behaviour/mannerisms, homes, beliefs, and sometimes skin tone and facial features. A properly coded culture shouldn’t really need any physical description of the people involved in order to register as that culture. So when you remove the source of food, clothing, and home-building materials… how can you code something accurately from that?

    And yes, it’s intimidating to think of doing so much research and starting from 0. You have to code a much larger culture than you’d originally intended, and it absolutely increases the amount of work you have to do.

    But, as I said, you are already doing this with Europe. You’re just so familiar with it, you don’t realize. You can get a rundown of how to code the overarching culture with my guide: Representing PoC in Fantasy When Their Country/Continent Doesn’t Exist

    Takeaways

    Writers need to be aware of diversity not just as a nebulous concept, but as something that simply exists and has always existed. And the diversity (or lack thereof) of any one region is a result of, specifically, the politics of that region.

    Diversity didn’t just exist “over there”. It has always existed within a society. Any society. All societies. If you want to start adding diversity into your fantasy, you should start looking at the edges of Fantasy World 29 and realize that the brown people aren’t just stopping at the designated border and trading goods at exactly that spot, but have been travelling to the heart of the place for probably a few hundred years and quite a few of them probably liked the weather, or politics, better so they’ve settled.

    Each society will produce a unique history of oppressing The Other, and you can’t just grab random group A and put it in societal context B and expect them to look the same. Just look at the difference between the Ainu people, the anti-Indigenous discrimination they face, and compare it to how the Maori are treated in New Zealand and the history of colonialism there. Both Indigenous peoples in colonial societies on islands, totally different contexts, totally different results.

    If random group A is a group marked by oppression, then it absolutely needs to stay in its same societal context to be respectful. If random group A is, however, either not marked by being oppressed within its societal context and/or is a group that has historically made that move so you can see how their situation changed with that move, then it is a much safer group to use for your diversity.

    Re-learn European history from a diverse lens to see how Europe interacted with Africa and Asia to stop making the not-Europe parts of Fantasy World 29 just be bit parts that add flavour text but instead vibrant parts of the community.

    Stop picking singular cultures just because they fascinate you, and place them in their contexts so you can be respectful.

    ~ Mod Lesya

    chucksrus84

    These tweets are from Dara Kass. She's an MD. Please take her advice on how to deal with this current situation. Read. Take notes. Memorize it. And protect yourselves.

    All of you.

    wiisagi-maiingan

    Planned Parenthood has a full explanation of SB 8, its consequences, and the steps that PP and other groups are taking to fight it.

    iceeckos12

    reblogged as of 9/3/2021