chinese domination

Research:Large to Small Scale, Avoiding Homogenizing East Asian Cultures, & Paralleling Regions Appropriately

I’m currently working on a project set in a secondary world, but with nations that roughly correspond to major cultures in our world. 

By that I mean I’m trying to create amalgamations of cultural groups. For example, one country corresponds to Germanic cultures, one to Celtic, one to Mediterranean. There are, so far, also countries that correspond to Eastern Asia - a mixture of Japanese, Chinese and Korean, mainly - South America, “Arab countries” and so on. My first question, in that regard, would be whether or not this concept - creating a “vibe” that reads Eastern Asian, for example, but is not one specific culture - is offensive and if it is, what I can do to solve it. 

The project I’m working on makes use of so called FaceClaims, which means that, for example, actors are used to represent fictional characters. If I based the country on China alone, then I could only use Chinese FCs and would thus greatly limit the representation. A solution I thought of was to have each country be inofficially split up in itself, so the “East Asian” country would have a “Chinese” region, a “Korean” region and so on.
Secondly, I have a desert region that I thought would be nice for an “African” (I am very much aware that there is no such thing as an “African culture”, so bear with me) cultural group. For this “country”, I thought of a loose union between different nations of people. There, I’m stuck - should I choose one region in Africa, let’s say West Africa, and base each nation on one specific peoples there? Or should I create my own “African-inspired” cultures? Or should I choose cultures from all around Africa and base a nation on each?

My third question goes along a similar line: The “cultures” I have chosen for the countries are by far not all there are in the world. There is no country for Native Americans, for example, none for South-Eastern Asians (unless I integrate them with my “India”), no Central Asian, etc. I know it is impossible to include all cultures there are in the world, but how do I choose which ones to represent in a concept like mine? I don’t want to exclude them, but I simply cannot create as many countries as there are cultural groups.

One possible solution I thought of specifically refers to Jewish people, since I feel it is important to represent them more in fantasy writing. My current idea was to have their story go similar to that of our world: Exile, long travels, and a split into groups, one of which would be the Ashkenazim, living somewhere near the Germanic country, and the other would be the Sephardim, which I imagined to live in between the “Arab” and “African” country, in a semi-autonomous city-state. But is it offensive to adapt what happened to the Jewish people in a secondary world or should I make it so that they have a more positive past and life, no exile like there was in our world? As far as I know, the exile is an important part of Jewish identity and cultural understanding, but I thought I’d ask anyway.

I’m going to preface this that some of this wording might sound very harsh, but I recognize you are genuinely asking out of a place of respect but you just aren’t sure what the best way to respect the world’s diversity is. The problem is it’s still not quite respectful enough, and shows sometimes glaring ignorance of nuances in the region.

I would also like to remind people that just because your exact question hasn’t been answered to the full scope you’re looking at, doesn’t mean you can’t get an answer as a whole. For example, we’ve discussed the concept of how and when to mix different cultures in the East Asian tag. Shira will cover your questions regarding Jewish representation below. 

However, I’m going to specifically tackle this from a research and worldbuilding perspective, primarily talking about a history of forced homogenization and how to avoid recreating colonialism/imperialism.

Notes on Language and False Equivalences

For starters, basically all of these groups are too broad. By a long shot. Either they flatten sometimes dozens to thousands of cultures (“Native American country” is in the thousands, “West Africa” is in the hundreds, “China, Japan, Korea” is in the dozens, if not hundreds, same deal with India). This language use makes people pretty uncomfortable, because it implies that the basis is stereotypes. It implies you haven’t done research, or, at least, haven’t done enough. When discussing nuance, it’s best to imply you understand there is nuance— like you did with Africa and Jewish culture, but neglected to do everywhere else.

You also go very broad with all non-European cultures, but narrow down a general homogeneous part for your European analogues, by picking Germanic and Celtic.

This double standard is something that is exactly what we try to draw attention to at WWC: to our ears, it sounds like “I’m taking Germanic peoples for Europe, but I’m going to mix three East Asian countries because those two regions have the equivalent amount of sameness that I can pass it off.”

While that sounds specific to just you, it’s not. We’ve received this type of question dozens of times in the past and it’s a general cultural attitude we’ve faced lots and lots and lots of times. Western society makes you think the equivalence is equal, because they’ve flattened all non-European countries with the single broadest brush, but it’s not.

I would also caution you on relying on media images for face claims, because media images only represent the idealized version of beauty. We’ve written multiple description guides that point out how much variety exists within all ethnic groups and how people seeing us as all the same is a microaggression.

You are right that you can’t tackle all of the world’s diversity into your worldbuilding, because, well, there is so much. The core of your question is basically how to narrow it down, which is what I’m going to tackle.

My suggestion is twofold: 

  1. Research big, top level things, over a few centuries— namely, keep track of empires that have tried to take over places and look at what groups Western society lumps together when it spreads multiple regions.
  2. Build small with a focus on a very specific place and group— namely, pick the smallest possible region you can and see what you have to build from there.

Researching Big

Researching big helps you catch what not to flatten, or at least, where flattening might be reinforcing situations that a government perpetuated. I’m going to focus on East Asia since that’s the bulk of your question, and it’s also where I’ve spent some time worldbuilding. The principles apply to all groups you’re trying to research.

East Asia— namely Japan, Korea, and China, although that is an oversimplification itself— is composed of two empires: China and Japan. This makes homogenization extremely risky because you’re touching two nerves of countries trying to take over in very recent history.

China has taken over a very large swath of land over centuries, and still has independence fights to this day from their recent history. As a result, they have both a roughly overreaching culture because the empire is so old, and a very fractured culture with over 50 recognized ethnic groups. When you think of “Chinese” you usually think of the dominant Han Chinese, but because of its old empire roots you can get a giant variety. In modern day, some provinces have kept their individual culture, while others have been part of China for so long there is a general “sameness” to them that can capture the flare you want.

Japan’s imperialism is similarly recent, only ending in 1947, and it left wounds across the Pacific (including Korea, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Malaysia). Many of their actions are classified as war crimes. They’ve also erased their own Indigenous population by insisting only one ethnicity lived in the country. Both of these factors make mixing Japan into an “East Asian” mix tricky. Japan’s culture, while heavily impacted by China and Korea, is pretty distinct because of its island status.

Big research also lets you see the neighbouring areas at a time borders might not have been the same. For example, in the 1600s, China was much smaller because the Manchu External Expansion hadn’t happened yet. As a result, places we now think of as “Chinese” actually weren’t, and you’ll have to account for these differences in your worldbuilding. You can determine this by looking up historical maps/empires, which might require book research (libraries are wonderful).

This does not mean you can ignore recent history, however. Because the story is set in modern day, people will be viewing it through a modern lens. You need to research both the modern and the historical context in order to understand how to go about crafting a respectful world.

So that’s stuff you would’ve discovered by big research. By tracking empire movements, you can see where old wounds are and what historical contexts exist within whatever region you’re pulling from. If you take North America, you can see how each individual tribe is cast aside in favour of settler stories; in Africa, you can see how multiple empires wanted to plunder the land and didn’t care who it was; in the Middle East, you can see both the recent military involvement, the historical Ottomans, and the historical Persians.

Build Small

You can also see what empires influenced their regions for long enough to create a similar-ish culture throughout multiple regions, which can help you extract the essence you’re looking for. I would add a very large caution to only do this for historical empires where those who suffered under the regime are not fighting in present day/ have living memory of it (such as incorporating too much of England, France, or Spain in the Americas, along with the two examples above).

Now you can build small. If you wanted to give a sense of, say, coastal China with a heavy amount of trade, you can pick a major port city in China and figure out the pluralism in relation to that city. What parts identify it as Chinese (architecture, governance, food, general religious practices— folklore changes by region, but the general gist of practices can remain similar enough to get a vibe), and what parts are borrowed from a distinct enough culture they’re noticeably different?

By going from a city level, you can imply pluralism by throwing in asides of differences “out there” that shows you’ve thought about it, without cramming your world full of cultures you can’t fit in the plot. You can then also narrow down what to include based on map proximity: if there’s an easy sea or land path to an Egyptian analogue, you’re probably going to at least hint at it. This is a known historical trade, btw. Egyptian blue and Han purple are made of similar substances, pointing to an ancient cultural link.

You can research this by simply googling the country and looking under its history in Wikipedia. If you look up “China”, you can see “Imperial Unification” as one of its history points. “Japan” similarly gets you the Meiji period. Turkey shows the Ottoman empire. You can also look up “empires in [region]” that will give you a similar overview. This even works for places you don’t think have historical empires, such as North America (the pre-colonization section notes several).

This also is a starting place for what the borders would’ve been during any given time period, and gives you places to potentially factor in military involvement and recent strife. This is where modern research comes in handy, because you can get an idea of what that strife looked like.

Hope this gives you an idea how to go about worldbuilding a diverse population, and how to avoid paralleling recent wounds. 

~ Mod Lesya

Regarding Your Jewish Characters

I think it’s valid to reflect our real history in fantasy although if you dwell too much on the suffering aspects and not the “richly varied cultural traditions” aspects you’ll probably lose some of us because suffering-porn written from the outside gets old fast (if you’re Jewish yourself you 200% have the right to write this, of course.) Human Jewish characters living in pockets in fake-northern-Europe and fake-Mediterranea and fake-North-Africa (or even Fake China and Fake India; we’re there, too) is actually injecting some well-needed historical accuracy back into a genre that’s been badly whitewashed, gentilewashed, etc by imagining a Europe where nobody but white gentiles existed until they conveniently popped into existence during whatever era the writer thinks is appropriate.

In other words, if your fake Germany has a Jewish neighborhood in its largest city, that’s a way of making pseudo-European fantasy more realistic and less -washy, and is overall a good move, despite the fact that the destruction of the temple is the reason we were in Germany in the first place. (I mean… it’s not like you’re planning on sitting there writing about Tisha b'Av itself, right? You don’t have to say “And the reason there are Jews here is because a bazillion years ago, we wound up getting scattered” just to have Jews.)

By the way, having myself written secondary-world fantasy where entire countries, plural, get to be majority-Jewish, and 100% free of on-screen antisemitism, I think both ways are valid.

–Shira

anonymous asked:

white supremacist travels backwards in time to prevent the colonization of the Americas by Europe, thus ensuring European dominance of Earth in the 21st century. or maybe Chinese dominance. i dont know man, I just want a space war involving mecha-buffalo

if the whites didnt discover america, the asian empires would have

the destruction and dominance of north america by the old world was inevitable by the flat fact that the american civilizations were not only going through a dark ages (the north american empires nation states of the mississippi basin had long collapsed and reverted to semi agricultural or forager status before settlers or their diseases arrived) but the societies that were around and in the midst of a relatively highly advanced state in mesoamerica (mexica/aztec; which were experiencing a golden era) and north south america (inca) were all still at a level of being akin to the development status of the mesopotamian kingdoms several thousand years ago. It was like if the spanish were to encounter and summarily mollywhop nebuchadnezzar’s babylon. But Babylon at least had bronze weapons, the best the aztecs could offer were axes with volcanic glass blades.

The aztecs couldve resisted the spanish though, but their culture and reaction to the invading spanish fucked them royally, as they saw they were literally a force of their god

and thats not even unique to the americans, the europeans and christians of the old world reacted the same way when 200 years earlier, a similarly, insanely advanced and merciless empire bound for conquest rolled out of the superior society basket of china and swiftly brought ruin to everyone else because they found it their religious destiny to spread their domain over the world. The muslim world was so THOROUGHLY ravaged at the height of it’s own golden era that most historians believe it still hasn’t recovered.

the white man’s world of Europe was literally 10 years away from being reduced to the same fate north america had been, when it’s best armies - the largest fielded since the roman empire - were completely smashed in poland and hungry as they desperately tried to fight back subotai’s horde. The christians were certain these were the endtimes because the tatars, or rather, the mongols were unstoppable. They reacted as such, in disarray and in total fear and capitulation.

The mongols were so effective and powerful that they conducted warfare against their opponents as if they were literal livestock to be rounded up and slaughtered. The Chinese fell, the rising powers and old powers of the muslim world fell, and eastern europe was completely ravaged by a mere scouting force of several thousand horsemen that earned little more than two lines of “we checked this place out and returned” in the mongol historical record.

After the main force arrived to smash the collective forces of all of europe in legnica and mohi, there was nothing to impede their advance toward atlantic europe, and envoys of the pope and the western kingdoms made it known that conquest was merely years away.

except these mongol army decided at the last minute to turn around and ENTIRELY return to mongolia because the great khan died and everyone was obliged to be present for the new khan’s ascent to power. That was the literal 1 in a million chance that saved western europe. The total apocalyptic wasteland in the middle east (that europe surely wouldve experienced too) left by the mongols helped pave the way for western europeans to spread their influence, now suddenly aware of and curious to what lay beyond their known universe now that a massively powerful, advanced society exploded out of the far fringes of that and nearly destroyed them. The age of exploration began.

like we are living in the alternate history timeline where europe achieved dominance rather than asia, particularly because of a single, freak, sudden death.

it would be like if hernando cortez arrived at the fringes of mexico and began his conquest of the aztecs and then, suddenly, died, and the expedition returned to the carribean and sailed back to spain. The aztecs suddenly, aware of what NEARLY wiped them out, begin to seek abroad and understand a broader world that nearly wiped them out.

id like to believe most alternate universes of human history are where europe was conquered by asia. Imagine if western europe were as chronically impoverished as eastern europe and culturally influenced by chinese culture (mongols would go on to assimilate into settled chinese societal norms)


but yea, if not yuro poors, the asian societies wouldve rolled into and ravaged the new world. yuropoors got a lucky break and were spared the least scathed group of people from the mongol wave.

CULTURAL SYMBOLISM IN NIALL’S SLOW HANDS PROMO TOUR

Am I reading too much into the styling choices of the Asian leg of Niall’s Slow Hands promo tour? Or am I reading exactly as much as Ellie Stidolph intended? I’ll let you decide. (And/or Ellie confirm).

THE LOOK: Percival Niwaki Pine print shirt
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?: Niwaki (庭木) is the Japanese art of sculptural gardening. The shirt fabric was designed and woven in Japan, while the shirt was made in London by a UK label. Making it kind of like the Wagamama of fashion - inspired by Japan, but not deeply authentic. By wearing it, Niall conveys an appreciation of and affinity for Japanese culture, while also being quite endearingly confused by almost every element of daily Japanese life.

THE LOOK: Kent & Curwen appliqued rose t-shirt
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?: According to Hanakotoba (花言葉), the Japanese form of the language of flowers, a pink rose symbolises trust, confidence & happiness. By wearing a pink rose over his heart, Niall conveys emotion and communicates directly with the viewer without needing the use of words: trust me, I’m confident that listening to Slow Hands will bring happiness into your life.

THE LOOK: Percival Vincent jacket
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?: In ethnically Chinese dominant Singaporean culture, red corresponds with the element of fire and symbolises good fortune and joy. By wearing red at his Singapore showcase, Niall embodies the joy which his music brings into the lives of many, especially if you have the good fortune to see him perform live. And, like fire, he looks smoking hot while wearing it. Bonus points for the nod towards the red and white of the Singaporean flag. 

anonymous asked:

would appreaciate your thoughts on this: the establishment - 'crazy rich asians is a win for diverse representation not quite'

Hey there.

Sorry for the late reply but I had to think about this one.

“But it’s hard to feel the hype from where I’m sitting, here in Singapore, where most of the Crazy Rich Asians story unfolds. While it’s definitely significant that Hollywood’s finally producing an all-Asian film, the anticipation for this film demonstrates that representation can mean different things to different groups of people, and that there is divergence between the needs and priorities of Asian Americans and Asians.”

I definitely agree with Kirsten here how she points out that Asian Americans and Asians (in Asia) have different needs and priorities. So while we Asian Americans may think Crazy Rich Asians could be a breakthrough for us, for Singaporeans at least, it is another western stereotype. Since the story focuses on a lavish lifestyle, it sort of plays into the “Asians are rich and successful” stereotype.

“When it comes to representation, what I would like to see as a Singaporean is something that reflects my country and society in all our diversity and complexity, and helps audiences make connections between our experiences and theirs.”

I like that she wants an accurate representation of her country and not just a western backdrop view of it.

“Crazy Rich Asians does nothing to improve the situation. It’s touted as a win for representation in the U.S. because of its stated goal to have an all-Asian cast, but the focus is specifically on characters and faces of East Asian descent (as dictated by the book). This is already a misrepresentation of Singapore at the most basic level, obscuring the Malay, Indian, and Eurasian (and more) populations who make the country the culturally rich and unique place that it is. Ironically, in Singapore, Chu’s all-Asian boast is nothing more than a perpetuation of the existing Chinese dominance in mainstream media and pop culture.”

This. Instead of having a diverse cast that actually represents Singapore, Crazy Rich Asians basically homogenizes the Singaporean experience by using rich East Asian people while erasing the experiences of Southeast Asians, South Asians, and other Asian people.

Overall, Kirsten definitely addresses some of the issues with Crazy Rich Asians. I’ll admit that I don’t know much about Singapore or Singaporeans so when I do watch Crazy Rich Asians, I may develop a misrepresented view of it. This can equally go for anyone who doesn’t know anything about Singapore or Singaporeans either. So it’s definitely good to see an actual Singaporean offer her insights about the story and how we should be critical of it. I will still support the film because it involves East Asian Americans but like any movie, we shouldn’t accept it as reality.

Angry Asian Guy

LAY ‘Lose Control’ DOMINATES Multiple Chinese Music Charts!

Lay’s entire ‘Lose Control’ album occupies the first SIX spots on Alibaba’s Music Chart.

The whole album also occupies the first six spots on Xiami’s Music Chart (Digital Sales).

Lay is on track to break multiple records with the release of his debut album ‘Lose Control. 

Congratulations Lay! We are very proud of you. 

cr: @Layixingworld (Twitter)

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John Woo’s 7 Brothers (2007) covers by Yoshitaka Amano

“Six hundred years ago long, before history’s great explorers stole the credit for their feats, mighty Chinese treasure fleets set sail to reach every continent. These voyages of discovery left behind an evil legacy and a plot by a powerful Chinese sorcerer to dominate the world.

Now in modern day Los Angeles, an ancient Chinese prophecy must be fulfilled and seven men with nothing in common but their destinies must face the Son of Hell to save the world. Created by John Woo.”

Story: Garth Ennis, art: Jeevan Kang

Something I always wanted to articulate, but didn’t know how to say it: I get a tad annoyed when progressives and SJWs go on about “White-dominated culture” and “European norms” in places like, you know EUROPE and the WEST. I never know if they mean to be “calling out” these places for having the audacity of constructing a society and culture around the people who actually lived there first and longest, because to me it’s just stating a fact.

It’s like if I went to China, and said “GOSH this place just has such a history of CHINESE-DOMINATED culture, and CHINESE cultural norms, HOW TERRIBLE,” people would laugh at me. So why is it such a stretch to just accept that the European West, despite it being the most welcoming and flexible culture in human history, would nonetheless be at least slightly biased toward people of European heritage and roots?

It’s like these people don’t even know the implications of what they’re saying, but since it sounds “critical” and full-o-buzzwords, it’s good by them. Every time they decry “European Norms,” in a western country, I just sit there and say “Well of course. What did you expect?” Those in the West live in a culture and society saturated by European historical tradition, experience, preferences, and memories. If you want to criticize it’s ok, but understand it first. Read the classics, read the histories, the political theorists (beyond Marx, please). Yes I know all old white men bla bla bla, but if you’re going to fight something you progressives feel is so rankly unjust, I’d recommend you know your “enemy.”

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The All-star fantasy epic “The Monkey King” is likely to dominate the Chinese film market and beyond during the Spring Festival season. “The Monkey King,” the newest adaption of the Chinese classic ancient novel “Journey to the West,” written by Wu Cheng'en in the Ming Dynasty, will be screened all over China from Jan. 31, the first day of the Chinese lunar New Year. The film is directed by Hong Kong director Cheang Pou-Soi and stars Chinese movie stars Donnie Yen, Chow Yun-fat, Aaron Kwok, Joe Chen, Peter Ho, Kelly Chen, Zhang Zilin and Gigi Leung. “It is not just a film, it is like a big engineering project,” said Wang Haifeng, chairman of the film’s production company, the Filmko Entertainment Group. “I totally agree. We have spent years making it happen and we should be thankful to the thousands of people who worked on the film.” According to Wang, the film is the true blockbuster and cost a total of 500 million yuan (US$82.6 million) to make and promote. About 250 million yuan (US$41.3 million) was spent on the filming and the rest was spent on post-production, distribution and promotion. “Actually, we only spent 70 million yuan (US$11.5 million) on the all-star cast,” he said, “The major expenditure was on the special effects.” The “Monkey King” production team asked Hollywood top-class special effects veterans and companies for help. The film’s 3D design was done by Daniel L. Symmes, who worked on “The Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” while the make-up effects were done by Shaun Smith and his team, who worked on “300” and “I Am Legend." The visual effects advisor is David Ebner, who worked on "Alice in Wonderland” and “Spider-Man 3” while the visual effects supervisor Kevin Rafferty, who worked on “Men in Black II” and “Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace.” “We lavished more than 200 million yuan on special effects. While Chinese visual effects companies worked on hundreds of scenes, nearly 2,000 scenes were done by international teams in North America, South Korea, India, Thailand and Australia,” Wang said.

The “Monkey King” project was begun in 2008, and the filming started in 2010, when the producers felt that film technology had developed enough to depict the fantasy scenes from “Journey to the West,” after watching “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. At this time, the Chinese film market also started to expand rapidly.