Category Archives: colonization/colonialism

Introducing: The Cultural Imperialism Bingo Card!

By Guest Contributor Jaymee Goh, cross-posted from Silver Goggles

I’m pleased to be part of the launch of the Cultural Imperialism Bingo Card, designed by Aliette de Bodard, Joyce Chng, Kate Elliott, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, @requireshate, Charles Tan, @automathic and @mizHalle. Launch orchestrated with the help of Zen Cho and Ekaterina Sedia in addition to above authors.

I’ve talked about cultural appropriation here a lot–and neocolonialism as well–and that neocolonialism can manifest in the form of cultural imperialism. I could talk at length about this, but if you were wondering what are some general sentiments that cultural imperialists spout, here is a handy dandy Bingo Card for you to play with the next time you’re watching a discussion about the Third World had by (usually white) First Worlders unfold before your eyes, whether online or off. Strike any statement that comes close and see how long it takes for you to get Bingo!
I should probably add that all the statements in this card, we didn’t have to make up. Most of us have seen these sentiments in comments sections…or just said outright to our faces. It’s pretty incredible, yea? Not, not really. Sigh.


ETA: Reader Modern Wizard took the time to transcribe the card: Continue reading

Black Panther: The Progressive African Avenger

By Guest Contributor Costa Avgoustinos, cross-posted from Pop Culture and The Third World

T'Challa, The Black Panther. Courtesy: Marvel Comics.

Since we’re all on an Avengers high, now is the perfect time for a close look at the fascinating sometimes-Avenger: The Black Panther, Marvel’s first black (/African) superhero. Specifically, let’s look at the 2010 BET animated TV series, Black Panther, because the politics in it are, frankly, stunning.

What politics? Well, here’s the premise: The Black Panther is the leader of the fictional African nation, Wakanda. Wakanda is the exclusive home to a precious mineral called vibranium, an impenetrable metal with exceptional properties, and so The Black Panther’s job is to protect Wakanda’s borders from bastards that want to invade and exploit its riches. This includes French colonialists, ruthless mercenaries and, in the TV series, the modern U.S. government.

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Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Vijay Prashad

By Andrea Plaid

Vijay Prashad. Courtesy: Mitra Images

This week’s Loved-Up is courtesy of former Racialicious owner/editor, Carmen Van Kerckhove-Sognonvi.

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Victorianism Without Victoria: On Mexican Steampunk

By Guest Contributor Hodson, cross-posted from Beyond Victoriana

Note: This article is also available to read in Spanish on El Investigador’s website / Este artículo está disponible para leer en español. Thanks go out to El Investigador’s Editor-in-Chief Araceli Rodríguez, and magazine writers Hodson and Miguel for their time and effort in getting this piece together for Beyond Victoriana.

There are many reasons why the Victorian era is considered the Golden Age of the British Empire. Not only the economic and social stability came at a time where social inequalities were as big as scientific advances, but the huge explosion of advances in production, communications, and transportation allowed the existence of a global colonial government facilitated by the ability to improve the response time of all regional governments.

At a time when the great modern empires grew and spread across five continents populated by man, Victorianism quickly became the spirit of the time. The idea of progress and mastery of time through greater efficiency in transport and production was a constant among all the nations of the world, and those who had the power to launch big technology and conquest ventures had secured a bright future in the international area.

The Victorian era was undoubtedly the light bulb that shines light upon this century. It was the time when big government combined a vision of the future and the present into an immediate moment that inspired prosperity and development.

For those living in First World countries, it is easy to imagine a glorious past that never ceased to be, and it is done through an alternate technologically advanced reality. Whether it’s a world of steam or of world war, to imagine that moment of past glory is not a particularly difficult endeavor.

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Quoted: Ethan Zuckerman On Parsing Kony 2012 And Digital Activism

It makes perfect sense that a campaign to create widespread awareness of conflict in northern Uganda would want to simply this picture down to a narrative of good versus evil, and a call towards action. While I resent the emotionally manipulative video Invisible Children have produced, I admire the craft of it. They begin with a vision of a changing global world, where social media empowers individuals as never before. They craft a narrative around a passionate, driven advocate – Jason Russell – and show us the reasons for his advocacy – his friendship with a Ugandan victim of Kony. The video has a profound “story of self” that makes it possible for individuals to connect with and relate to. And Invisible Children constructs a narrative where we can help, and where we’re shirking our responsibility as fellow human beings if we don’t help.

The problem, of course, is that this narrative is too simple. The theory of change it advocates is unlikely to work, and it’s unclear if the goal of eliminating Kony should still be a top priority in stabilizing and rebuilding northern Uganda. By offering support to Museveni, the campaign may end up strengthening a leader with a terrible track record.

A more complex narrative of northern Uganda would look at the odd, codependent relationship between Museveni and Kony, Uganda’s systematic failure to protect the Acholi people of northern Uganda. It would look at the numerous community efforts, often led by women, to mediate conflicts and increase stability. It would focus on the efforts to rebuild the economy of northern Uganda, and would recognize the economic consequences of portraying northern Uganda as a war zone. It would feature projects like Women of Kireka, working to build economic independence for women displaced from their homes in Northern Uganda.

Such a narrative would be lots harder to share, much harder to get to “go viral”.

I’m starting to wonder if this is a fundamental limit to attention-based advocacy. If we need simple narratives so people can amplify and spread them, are we forced to engage only with the simplest of problems? Or to propose only the simplest of solutions?

As someone who believes that the ability to create and share media is an important form of power, the Invisible Children story presents a difficult paradox. If we want people to pay attention to the issues we care about, do we need to oversimplify them? And if we do, do our simplistic framings do more unintentional harm than intentional good?

—From “Unpacking Kony 2012” by Ethan Zuckerman

(Image Credit: Colorlines)

Meanwhile, On The TumblR: Rosebell Kagumire Adds Her Voice To The #StopKony Debate

“How you tell the story of Ugandans is much more important,” says journalist Rosebell Kagumire. “If you’re showing me as voiceless, as hopeless, you have no space telling my story, you shouldn’t be telling my story.”

The image and words shown at left are part of a video by Kagumire, which you can  get to by visiting Andrea’s post here. And, as ever, thanks to everybody who’s been following our Tumblr page for more quick hits during the week.

When Did Bigotry Get So Needy?

By Guest Contributor China Miéville, cross-posted from rejectamentalist manifesto

Stand down: literature has defeated the Thought Police. Belgium’s supreme court has defeated the mischief-making of the whining PC brigade. Tintin is not banned. Huzzah!

The badness of the bad faith involved in the commentariat’s discussion of this issue, the relentlessness of their categoric elisions, the unpleasantness of their crowing over the victory, should come as no surprise. This was never, at root, about banning.

Yes, Bienvenue Mbutu Mondondo was applying to the court to have Tintin in the Congo declared unacceptable under the Belgian race-relations law. However, he had made clear for years that he would be satisfied if, as in Britain, the book was published with a visible warning, a reminder of the context in which it was written (maybe even of the toxic ideology enshrined within). What Mondondo wanted was an official recognition that this text was a spitting in his face. That it came down to what was always clearly a nuclear option was due to the steadfast refusal of the publishers to countenance this–and thereby take responsibility for what they publish. The Belgian establishment went to cultural war, and it did so not for free speech, but for their right not to apologise for racist slander.

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Open Letter to Occupy San Diego

by Isang Bagsak, originally published at All People’s Revolutionary Front

Occupy San Diego

Dear Occupy San Diego,

We, the All Peoples Revolutionary Front, have been intrigued by the developments of Occupy Wall Street and the way this action has compelled many around the world to engage in public protest. While acknowledging the ways in which our struggles converge, we must articulate the ways in which our struggles diverge. We continue to observe brutality in the legacy of capitalism, a system that relied upon the enslavement of African and Caribbean peoples, the genocide and displacement of Indigenous peoples, and the violent seizure of lands for colonial profit. Economic exploitation of labor and resources is only one process of continuing colonization that disproportionately impacts communities of color and third world peoples. Our struggle for self-determination in the present moment contributes to the histories of resistance that began long before us.

APRFront is a collaboration of all abilities, generations, genders, gender non-conforming, sexual orientations, indigineity, race, ethnicities, cosmologies, faith and spiritual practices, and identities. We are a constellation of collectives involving students, activists, community organizers, artists, educators, justice advocates, and all those who engage critical knowledge to inform political struggle. APRFront identifies with a diverse range of practices, including Social Justice Education Pedagogy, anti-oppressive movement building, critical consciousness development, and privilege-checking strategies. We acknowledge all levels of education in our coalition, and welcome folks with a willingness to learn, teach, and engage in the different political ideologies of revolutionary liberation such as socialism-marxism-womyn of color feminism, intersectionality, anti-imperialism, anti-capitalism, and zapatismo. We realize these terms and ideologies may not be immediately accessible, but we will provide explanation to those who desire to learn and practice our methods. While we believe in education, we also believe that part of our self-determination is not having to fully disclose our identities and the practices we study in every public statement we make to “Occupy” movements.

We recognize the necessity and strategic importance of visible demonstrations which movements for social change rely upon, understanding that our struggle continues the legacy and knowledge of critical consciousness in direct action. We are concerned that Occupation is a romanticized and idealized form of activism, one that does not consider what must follow civil disobedience in the long-term. We envision the sustainability of organizing within our communities and collective contribution to accountable leadership, involving structured consensus-based decision making through the guiding power of the masses. Within this framework of self-determination, the colonizing language of Occupation does not translate. Because this land called “San Diego” has endured centuries of colonial conquest and domination at the expense of Indigenous Kumeyaay peoples, APRFront cannot support, endorse, or conscientiously mobilize in solidarity with the concept of Occupation. Our level of engagement with Occupy San Diego serves the purpose of claiming space for people of color and articulating the movement to decolonize on a local and global scale.

When we imagine decolonization, we do not make demands of those in power or those who are behind Occupy movements; we create power and frame the alternative. Continue reading