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ETA: please give proper credit if you cite this or any of meta, cos this stuff takes time and effort y’all.
So yesterday when I made this post, many people wanted to know why Voldermort’a pet snake being named ‘Nagini’ was racially problematic. I was surprised that people hadn’t considered this, but then again desi issues/culture are hardly visible in mainstream media. But today I kept getting anons either professing complete shock about Naagini’s* significance, OR telling me that my interpretations were wrong. So I decided to write this meta on Naagini, the HP verse and mythological snake symbols. But first I’m gonna give some you some backstory about why Naagini bothers me so much and how Rowling seems to have missed out on some cultural context.
One of my favourite stories as a child was the one about Buddha and Mucalinda, the Snake King. Shortly after attaining enlightenment, the Buddha is travelling through a forest when he gets caught in a terrible storm. The great serpent, Mucalinda, shelters the Buddha by spreading it’s vast seven-headed hood over him, and permitting the Buddha to sit on his coils. Many statues depicting this scene are found throughout Sri Lanka. There was one at the junction close to my school that I would always stare at. The sight of the Buddha serenely meditating under the protection of a huge and powerful cobra is a striking one that captured my imagination as a child. Years later, I’m still moved on a deep, wordless level by this image.
Freaking BRILLIANT post. Should be read by anyone affected by the intersection of colonialism with patriarchy (read: EVERYBODY) and/or remotely interested in mythology even if you don’t give a damn about Harry Potter.
1,921 notes (via irresistible-revolution)
Green (1982) defines cultural competency as “the ability to conduct professional work in a way that is consistent with the expectations which members of distinctive culture regard as appropriate among themselves.”
Resistance maintains “that teaching cultural competence through the use of fact-learning about specific populations is deeply flawed and limits thinking.”
“I don’t believe that “exposure” necessarily creates competence. Short answer, I know lots and lots of white people who regularly show up in my cultural groups who are shockingly, horrifyingly non-culturally-competent and racist.”
“The problem with having an almost religious faith in ‘exposure’ is that too often, people want to treat cultural exposure as if it were a magical panacea that will overcome all cultural ignorance, obstacles, awkwardness and will above all, ‘transcend’ outsider status; almost as if, once you read a little (or a lot), travel and talk to a few native or locals you’re “set” and you will thereafter move from culture to culture with complete grace, fluidity and ease just like a local or native, thus garnering you insider status. But that is just a childish fantasy (like the white kid who dreams of being embraced and adopted by Native American Indians, marrying the princess and leading ‘the tribe’ to victory)
Reality simply doesn’t work in this manner.
It takes a certain degree of humility to realise that no matter HOW much you study or ‘expose’ yourself to another culture, you are still an outsider who didn’t grow up in the culture. (But instead, people pick up a few bits and pieces of a culture then run with it as if it were the sum total.) There is always an important and NECESSARY distance between you and other groups and what true cross-cultural competence involves is having the awareness to realise, accept and *respect* distance while still attempting to communicate and forge bonds.
But many people – particularly white people – greatly struggle with this because of their overwhelming desire to control all interactions; they fear of having to admit to being ignorant, uncomfortable, alien or at a disadvantage because it clashes so violently with how their white identity is constructed. (i.e. all-knowing, at “home” in any place or clime, ‘innately’ native to everywhere, and perpetually privileged. So they become cultural fetishists or self-proclaimed experts to avoid having to surrender control.
Cross-cultural competency is not a set test that you can prep for then pass or fail.
My reading of the OP is: don’t overestimate the benefits of ‘exposure’ to other cultures or feel that it, in and of itself, ‘solves’ everything. If done in a respectful manner, it *can* at best, be helpful; but even then, you still have to be prepared to make missteps, be confident enough to admit to them, not repeat them then recover and continue. But that takes confidence, rather than pride as to how knowledgeable you are and how well-versed or ‘exposed’ you are to other cultures. Too many people who have had a little cultural exposure have such overweening pride that they can’t recover from a gaffe or a mistake.”
The summary of my 2 cents? It’s not just a “skill” you learn, that you can check off. Oh, I learned some essentialist stuff about a culture, I’m not racist, I know how to deal with them!
white people – greatly struggle with this because of their overwhelming desire to control all interactions; they fear of having to admit to being ignorant, uncomfortable, alien or at a disadvantage because it clashes so violently with how their white identity is constructed. (i.e. all-knowing, at “home” in any place or clime, ‘innately’ native to everywhere, and perpetually privileged. So they become cultural fetishists or self-proclaimed experts to avoid having to surrender control.
106 notes (via espritfollet)
At the time of decolonization and when the New Left was born in the 1960s and 1970s, the desire to live with and become the Other was transformed into an antiracist discourse, then later on morphed into the loosely defined world of New Age. The American author Jack Kerouac, who sometimes claimed that he had Native American blood, wrote in his classic novel On the Road that, “I wished I was a Negro, a Mexican, or even a Jap, anything but a white man disillusioned by the best in his own ‘white’ world.”
In a similar manner, Jim Morrison, the singer of the rock music group The Doors, boasted that he was connected to the North American continent by the way of his psychic contact with a Native American shaman.
Among the numerous examples from the same period reflecting this desire to live with, grow up with, and get taught by the Other are all the books written by New Age authors like Marlo Morgan and Olga Kharitidi, telling about their encounters with Native Americans, Aboriginals and Siberians, movie titles like The Last Samurai (2003) and Avatar (2009), and television shows like BBC’s Tribal Wives (2008) and Swedish Television’s Den Stora Resan (2009). Also, the literary genre of white women who marry and procreate with non-white men, such as I Married a Korean (1953), Not Without My Daughter (1987) and The White Masai (1998)[…]
Last but not least, the whole repertoire of subcultural phenomena, white youth and white adults who dress up and act like African Americans or East Asians, and the numerous individuals and companies that offer so-called “Oriental” quasi-spirituality, as well as associations like the Sioux Indian Club Sweden whose members dress up and roleplay as Native Americans.
[…]Canadian scholar Terry Goldie writes in Fear and Temptation: The image of the Indigène in Canadian, Australian and New Zealand Literatures that representations of the native “savage” oscillated between an abject nausea and a will to exterminate, to fetishistic desires and wish to create family ties to “it.” This reflects the white European colonizer’s more or less permanent attachment problem to the world outside Europe, the fear and hostility of being in the presence of non-Europeans, and the almost eternal need to wanting to become the Other, which results in ambivalent attitudes towards the natives, who are sometimes demonized and sometimes romanticized.
In the contemporary era, transracial adoption thus exclusively signifies the adoption of children of color to white Westerners on both international and domestic levels.
- Tobias Hubinette,“Transracial Adoption, White Cosmopolitanism, and the Fantasy of the Global family”
Why is it that people are willing to spend $20 on a bowl of pasta with sauce that they might actually be able to replicate pretty faithfully at home, yet they balk at the notion of a white-table cloth Thai restaurant, or a tacos that cost more than $3 each? Even in a city as “cosmopolitan” as New York, restaurant openings like Tamarind Tribeca (Indian) and Lotus of Siam (Thai) always seem to elicit this knee-jerk reaction from some diners who have decided that certain countries produce food that belongs in the “cheap eats” category—and it’s not allowed out. (Side note: How often do magazine lists of “cheap eats” double as rundowns of outer-borough ethnic foods?)
Yelp, Chowhound, and other restaurant sites are littered with comments like, “$5 for dumplings?? I’ll go to Flushing, thanks!” or “When I was backpacking in India this dish cost like five cents, only an idiot would pay that much!” Yet you never see complaints about the prices at Western restaurants framed in these terms, because it’s ingrained in people’s heads that these foods are somehow “worth” more. If we’re talking foie gras or chateaubriand, fair enough. But be real: You know damn well that rigatoni sorrentino is no more expensive to produce than a plate of duck laab, so to decry a pricey version as a ripoff is disingenuous. This question of perceived value is becoming increasingly troublesome as more non-native (read: white) chefs take on “ethnic” cuisines, and suddenly it’s okay to charge $14 for shu mai because hey, the chef is ELEVATING the cuisine.
One of the entries from the list ‘20 Things Everyone Thinks About the Food World (But Nobody Will Say)’.
Real. As. Fuck.
And real talk, I wish there was a Clueless Whitebread Muhfuckas filter on Yelp, because they stay talking stupid shit about places around my way.
Let’s also talk about how if there is a white face in front of these foods, that person can get more money because this is now a “sophisticated version made by whiteys”, but if people are doing their own shit it needs to be cheap like it is back in the country.
Westerners resenting POC for making equal profits from our OWN damn cuisine? lol stay classy yuppie ‘fusion’ scum
4,686 notes (via fairyonacidbanging & crankyskirt)
The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz (via mybrotherspeach)
#yuuuuup #’shadow in the east’ much? #’men of the west’ much? #the undying lands across the sea to the west much? #it’s sooooo funny how the men of the south and east are twisted mercenaries serving sauron #and the dunedain are blessed with long life #and are the ~noblest among men~ #and the men of rohan all blonde blue eyed and nordic #are the other ‘good’ group of men #funny that #and all you have to do is look at the movies #and look which cultures they drew costuming ideas from#i mean don’t get me wrong i love lotr it was and remains one of my favourite series#you’re lying to yourself if you think that they’re not racist
I just finished this book on Saturday, and lines like this totally destroyed me.
white people always accusing poc we take ish too seriously can’t we just ‘lighten up hah’ when there is literally no escape from this white=light=goodness supremacy, not even in the most ESCAPIST fantasy arenas much less in real life. p.s. regarding lotr movie production design yes it’s either rampant Eurocentrism or weirdass Orientalist-whitewashing clusterbomb
2,206 notes (via dustoffvarnya & mybrotherspeach-deactivated2013)
910 notes (via dustoffvarnya & abstractverses-deactivated20130)
if i’m a celestial being, what is my celestial power. i need this white girl to educate me
Dude, same here. I wanna know. Can I shoot fire out of my eyes? How could I not know about this for so long? Holy shit, can we control time too?
3 notes (via dustoffvarnya)
Rather than allowing itself to be simply written off as pure entertainment or a run-of-the-mill love story, the film dangerously sells out to what is often perceived as the “authentic” Third World experience – poverty, squalor and repression. Roger Ebert’s review of the film for the Chicago Sun Times for instance, repeatedly compliments Boyle for providing Western audiences with a glimpse of “the real India” which, in Ebert’s view, is akin to an aestheticized tour of Third World poverty:
The film’s universal appeal will present the real India to millions of moviegoers for the first time. By the real India…I mean the real India of social levels that seem to be separated by centuries…the India of Mother Teresa still exists….People living in the streets. A woman crawling from a cardboard box…Men relieving themselves by the roadside.
Gross imagery aside, Ebert’s overly ecstatic applause for the film as representing “the real India” is highly problematic. His comment serves as an example of what is at stake if the politics of representation which surround the film go uncritiqued.
Ebert entertains a view of India that gratuitously circumscribes to patronizing notions of the primitive, inferior, and exotic Other…
Slumdog Millionaire’s potential to represent this extremely Eurocentric view of India has not gone un-critiqued. Gehlawat comments:
Such films, – stemming back to Malle’s documentaries and including this year’s Oscar winner [Slumdog Millionaire] – provide what Shyamal Sengupta calls “a poverty tour” for Western audiences. Furthermore, in the case of Slumdog, this is a poverty-tour-as-music-video providing brief, rapidly edited bursts of shocking slum imagery to the pounding, pulsating beats of A.R. Rahman’s technofusion soundtrack.
Gehlawat takes issue with the aestheticized, yet nonetheless derogatory image of India that pervades the film. “It’s a white man’s imagined India,” writes Shyamal Sengupta in the Los Angeles Times, a neo-colonialist attempt to speak for a subaltern India and re-package it according to problematic, long-standing imperialist worldviews…
84 notes (via dustoffvarnya & sitaronse-deactivated20130101)
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