Gatehouse Gazette, Issue 11: Victorientalism [PDF] [Warning: Problematic]
[Magazine issue on "Victorientalism" in steampunk.]
Jha @ Steampunk Magazine: Countering Victorientalism [Warning: Derailing in comments]
There is a fairly recent term that has sprung in the annals of steampunk: Victorientalism. It is used to refer to steampunk that is inspired by the Orient, the vague, large region that was strange and new to Western explorers back in the day when there was no Internet and travelling took many months of dangerous journeying.
It's a pretty-sounding term, often used by well-meaning white people who don't have any clue just how racist the term is.
I want to nip this in the bud before it takes any more traction and people start using it for Asian steampunk by Asians, because Victorientalism, created by Occidentals, does not truly describe Asian-inspired steampunk, much less steampunk participation by Asians.
Ayleen the Peacemaker @ Beyond Victoriana #17: #17 The Semantics of Words & the Antics of Fashion: Addressing "Victorientalism"
... the term Orientalism today is in flux between its literal geographical meaning and the implied negative baggage it has acquired over time—that Orientalism is a Western-created ideal imposed upon the East and used to justify its subjugation—an argument first presented by postcolonial theorist Edward Said. Commentary in the steampunk communities, however, continue to frame Vicorientalism in a positive light, highlighting its romanticism as a positive endorsement for its use. This is all fair and well, IF the political and social effects of Orientalism were dead and gone. However, because it is very much alive today—causing damaging stereotypes and promoting racist mindsets—then perpetuating the glorified stereotypes of the Orient only serves to hurt the people of color they were based on. Moreover, such attitudes are only expressions of privilege, where white steampunks can turn a blind eye to steampunks of color in the community.
Ottens @ The Gatehouse: In Defense of Victorientalism [Warning: Problematic concepts regarding race, class, and nationality]
Reactions to the VICTORIENTAL ISSUE of the Gatehouse Gazette have been pretty fierce in the wake of its release earlier this month. The opinions of those provoked by it may best be summarized by Ay-leen who NOTED that using the phrase "Victorientalism" to imply a "positive, transcultural blend" of cultures is "misguided." Others have been less nuanced in their renunciations of our supposed position.
To understand the indignation, part of the issue’s editorial deserves reiteration. In it, I opined that steampunk allows the "incorrigible aficionados of Oriental romance [...] to reject the chains of reality and all the racism and guilt" associated with the imperial experience. Indeed, I asked, "Isn't this, after all, steampunk’s very premise? To delve into a past that never really was."
deepad: One bad tune deserves another
Pity the Orientalist
That Noble beleaguered Soul
Who stands above
the toiling herds
And wishes merely to Record.
Dru Pagliassotti @ The Mark of Ashen Wings: Against VictOrientalism
The only defensible purpose to using Victorientalism as a descriptor that I can think of might be in the pejorative sense ("that story was so Victorientalist; doesn’t the author know anything about what was going on in the Punjab in 1845?") or, perhaps, to describe a story that deliberately sets out to parody or undermine Orientalism within a steampunk framework.
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