Date: 17 May 2014 06:14 pm (UTC)
kaigou: (2 using mainly spoons)
From: [personal profile] kaigou
Yeah. I didn't know the word 'skrayling/skraeling' but given all I'd read of the Norse, I probably should have. Once I realized, though, I was so heddesking. The really frustrating part is that there's almost nothing in the story that requires they be from the New World. They're given so much -- in technology, magic, dress, beliefs, culture, language -- that's totally whole-cloth, that it wouldn't have damaged (or even changed!) the story in the least to just make up a damn island, and a name, and divorce them completely from the real people.

As for the lascars -- I realized after posting that there's another underlying issue with the text I quoted: "You even bun­dle us to­gether and call us las­cars – that’s a mean­ing­less word to us. We are dif­fer­ent is­lands, with dif­fer­ent tongues, dif­fer­ent cus­toms." Except that from what I've read, the only people called "lascar" were sailors. I've found no contemporary Western writings that refer to Southeast Asian peoples as "lascars" in general. It's only used to designate a group of (mostly sailing, only more rarely servant) people in a creolized sub-culture.

While it's true that Westerners would lump people together -- mistaking all Southeast Asians for Javanese, or Malay, or Chinese, just variations on the "you all look alike" -- it's not true that this lumping was given the title 'lascar'. So that particular part is a little misleading, and I would've thought that the lascar in particular (especially given his cultured, travelled, educated background) would be aware of that.

On pseudo-European land, he might've been called some kind of generic dark-skinned Other (like African, or Middle-Eastern, or even Oriental), but not 'lascar' (which is something that he definitely is). Which means 'lascar' is not an erasing title, because it's a definitive creolized sailor-culture. A lascar's experience on land -- being called/mistaken as any of a number of other things -- would've been one of erasure. That is, that the author ignores that for a historical lascar who lived his life as a sailor among other lascars of his culture, it wouldn't have been an issue at all to be identified as lascar, because that would've been his self-identified culture.

That's a strange one to unpack, and not sure I'm doing as thorough job as it really requires. Just that the character's complaining about being lumped together in a way that a) didn't actually occur and b) in a way, erases/undermines the very kind of lumping that really did happen.
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kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
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"When you make the finding yourself— even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light— you'll never forget it." —Carl Sagan

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