Racism in Steampunk fic:

Total posts: [17]
1 JewelyJ18th May 2011 03:46:38 PM from A state in the USA
I'm working on a steampunk story that is set in an Alternate England around 1880.

One of the main characters is an interesting cultural mix of Japanese Russian and a little bit Italian. He is somewhat tan with almond shaped eyes. Would he likely face prejudice?
even your stupid hoodie can't protect you
I doubt it.

He might get a few weird looks or labeled as an Oriental, but I don't think there were any reasons to discriminate against Asians back then in England.

If you were writing in America, he'd definitely get some prejudice and get labeled as just plain "exotic" or maybe even subhuman, since a ton of Chinese and Japanese came to the US for gold and the railroad, and they worked even harder than the Europeans.
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3 JewelyJ18th May 2011 04:27:41 PM from A state in the USA
He's also not exactly white looking (more like an ambiguous tan).
even your stupid hoodie can't protect you
That's what I assumed. People with even partial Asian ancestry tend to look quite Asian anyways.

Given that East Asians (let alone mixed Asians) probably were not a very common sight in England back then, I'll repeat what I said above- he's more likely to just get some odd looks than any outright discrimination. He may also get labeled as an Oriental- a term that some Asians find mildly offensive today -but that was acceptable back then.

In fact, in the UK, "Asian" is actually more commonly used to refer to those from the Indian subcontinent, while "Oriental" is used to refer to East Asians.
works on MY machine
5 drunkscriblerian18th May 2011 06:25:20 PM from Castle Geekhaven , Relationship Status: In season
Street Writing Man
I'd agree with what's already been posted, but there's one other angle to consider...the fact that most steampunk politely does away with the gender biases, racism and bigotry that were all very common during the 19th century.

Even if someone of that specific racial makeup would not have faced too much discrimination, you run the risk of being shuffled in with all the others who've re-written history to suit modern tastes. Up to you if you care, but I thought I'd point that out.
If I were to write some of the strange things that come under my eyes they would not be believed.

~Cora M. Strayer~
6 Wolf106618th May 2011 08:58:30 PM from New Zealand , Relationship Status: In my bunk
Strange Kiwi fella
Back in that era the "N-word" was quite acceptable - and not always used in a pejorative sense. Sadly another side effect of "Political Correctness" is to attribute racist attitudes and motivations to all those who used what are now deemed "unacceptable" words even if the speaker is not in the least bit racist (or not racist towards that particular race).

As with all language, tone of voice is more important than the words used.

It would be a real writing challenge to write something set back then with three dimensional characters who, like most people, have their own particular sets of prejudices (e.g. quite happy to associate with "niggers" (and use the word without a trace of malice) but would not accept his wife doing something deemed to be "man's work") and portray them using the idiom of the time in such a way that it is apparent who means it maliciously and who is just using a word that for them has no "heat".

Dangerously Genre Savvy since ages ago...
7 MrAHR19th May 2011 02:54:02 AM from ಠ_ಠ , Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
Well, the British Empire was in full swing. S/he'd prolly be considered a servant in England, but that's an educated guess.
even your stupid hoodie can't protect you
I don't believe they had any East Asian colonies or territories, though. The closest thing they had to Asian was the Indian subcontinent.
works on MY machine
Prince of Dorne
Of course an "Asiaman" would have faced prejudice in 19th century Europe! Why, look at that asian heathen from a race of no proper culture and civilisation at all! Etc, etc, etc... it would not have been quite as bad as with, say, an African, but quite bad enough.
Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken.

Unrelated ME1 Fanfic
10 AdeptusAlpharius19th May 2011 12:19:53 PM from Bosnia and Herzegovina
Alpha Legionnaire
"One of the main characters is an interesting cultural mix of Japanese Russian and a little bit Italian." - Jewely J

How did your character manage to pull that off? Especially the Italian part baffles me. Him/her being Russo-Japanese might be plausible if (s)he is from Sakhalin. Alternatively the Russian Empire had back then many Asian peoples on its own (Tatars, Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Kyrgyz, Turkmens, Yakuts etc.) if you want a more plausible Russian-Asian mix.

[up][up]What about Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaya, British North Borneo etc.?

edited 19th May '11 12:43:38 PM by AdeptusAlpharius

I ♥ the VRS
11 MrAHR19th May 2011 12:28:14 PM from ಠ_ಠ , Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
CG: Opium War?
12 JewelyJ19th May 2011 12:38:11 PM from A state in the USA

Um..it is possible. His grandmother on his mother's side was Asian and married and English/Italian man.

Also I should add that the guy comes from our normal world and gets sent IN to the alternate world.

edited 19th May '11 12:40:22 PM by JewelyJ

13 AdeptusAlpharius19th May 2011 04:54:39 PM from Bosnia and Herzegovina
Alpha Legionnaire
So the mother is Asian/English/Italian. Then Daddy must have been Russian. Being 1/4 Asian (Chinese, Burmese or Malayan being a bit more plausible then Japanese) your character would look more or less like Keanu Reeves.
I ♥ the VRS
14 JewelyJ19th May 2011 05:10:04 PM from A state in the USA
Both sides have a little bit of Asian on them.

Long story short, maternal grandfather dated and married his Asian (possibly Chinese classmate. Other family is Russo/Japanese.
15 MrAHR19th May 2011 05:10:59 PM from ಠ_ಠ , Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
Was interracial marriage even a thing, back in the day?
16 JewelyJ19th May 2011 05:17:21 PM from A state in the USA
He wasn't born in the 1880s world he was born in our modern world, 1991.
17 AdeptusAlpharius19th May 2011 05:55:44 PM from Bosnia and Herzegovina
Alpha Legionnaire
[up] Well that makes things a bit easier. As for the Russo-Japanese part, I heard that a lot of Japs fled from the USSR at the end of WWII. The Soviets took half a million Japanese POWs and many of them either died, went missing or were sent to North Korea. If you want you can make the the character's father being a descendant from those Japanese prisoners. Otherwise you can make the father half Tatar, Uzbek, Kazakh etc. or Korean, as there were a lot of Koreans in the USSR, especially in Uzbekistan and Sakhalin.
I ♥ the VRS
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Total posts: 17