Tag Archives: race

QUAINT #2 Buena Rejon from “The Mexican Ranchero” by Charles E. Averill

Rejon the Ranchero from The Mexican Ranchero. Image from "American Sensations." Click for link.

Buena Rejon was created by Charles E. Averill and appeared in The Mexican Ranchero; or, The Maid of the Chapparal (1847). Averill (?-?) was a popular dime novelist. He is best known for his Kit Carson, Prince of the Gold Hunters (1849).

The Mexican Ranchero is set in Mexico in the aftermath of the Mexican-American War, after the American troops have occupied Mexico City. The truce between the Mexicans and the Americans is broken when Raphael Rejon attacks a squad of American soldiers. Raphael Rejon is the “Lion of Mexico,” the “mortal foe” of Americans. The American soldiers burned his home, his parents died in the fire, and he and his sister were left both orphaned and homeless. Since that time Raphael and his sister, Buena Rejon, the “Maid of the Chaparral,” waged a guerrilla war against the occupiers; “hundreds of Americans…have become the victims of her unerring lasso.”

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Beyond Victoriana Special Edition Odds & Ends #8

For the last post of the year, I’m enjoying a post-holiday recoup and a some good steampunky links. Featuring some oldies but goodies, great vids, the launch of SteamCast in Brazil, and pretty steampunk art after the jump.

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#51 Fascinating Women: Meta Warrick Fuller–Guest Blog by Evangeline Holland

Note: Cross-posted with permission from Edwardian Promenade.

Meta (mee-tah) Vaux Warrick Fuller was not the first African-American sculptress–that would be Edmonia Lewis–but she became the most prominent. She was born in 1877 to a prominent Philadelphia family, her father a successful barber and her mother an equally successful beautician. Raised in relative financial comfort, and educated in the typical feminine graces of the time, Fuller’s career as an artist began in high school, when one of her projects was chosen for inclusion in the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. This work won her a full scholarship to the Pennsylvania Museum & School of Industrial Art, where she received her diploma and teacher’s certificate. During her time at PMSIA, one of her first original pieces in clay was a head of Medusa, which “with its hanging jaw, beads of gore, and eyes starting from their sockets, marked her as a sculptor of the horrible.” She won further prizes for her work, receiving a prize for metal work with a crucifix upon which hung the figure of Christ torn by anguish, and an honourable mention for her work in modeling. She then won, in her post-graduate studies, the George K. Crozier first prize for the best general work in modeling for the piece “Procession of Arts and Crafts.”

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#48 Les Sapeurs: Gentlemen of the Congo–Guest Blog by Eccentric Yoruba

Modern day dandies–Gentlemen of Bakongo, Brazzaville. Image courtesy of Daniele Tamagni. Click for link.

Dandyism and the Black Man

A dandy is a man who places extreme importance on physical appearance and refined language. It is very possible that dandies have existed for as long as time itself. According to Charles Baudelaire, 19th century French poet and dandy himself, a dandy can also be described as someone who elevates aesthetics to a religion.

In the late 18th and early 19th century Britain, being a dandy was not only about looking good but also about men from the middle class being self-made and striving to emulate an aristocratic lifestyle.  The Scarlet Pimpernel is one of literature’s greatest dandies; famous historical dandies include Oscar Wilde and Lord Byron.

These days the practice of dandyism also includes a nostalgic longing for ideals such as that of the perfect gentleman. The dandy almost always required an audience and was admired for his style and impeccable manners by the general public.

The special relationship between black men and dandyism arose with slavery in Europe particularly during England’s Enlightenment period. In early 18th century, masters who wanted their slaves to reflect their social stature imposed dandified costumes on black servants, effectively turning them into ‘luxury slaves’. As black slaves gained more liberty, they took control of the image by customising their dandy uniforms and thereby creating a unique style. They transformed from black men in dandy clothing to dandies who were black.

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#39 Epic Adventures at Dragon*Con & in Salem

Note as of 9/21/2010: Since the posting of this report, I have received feedback that a reader had been offended by my comments below for ignoring the presence  of mixed race and Native steampunks at Dragon*Con. I take full responsibility for the offense made and apologize for my oversight. As noted in the comments of this post, I don’t wish to make a marginalized person feel that they have been rendered invisible when they visit this site. The lightheartedness in which I made the comments below in “The Count” about race, representation, and physical appearance ignores the very painful experience of being a person of mixed race/Native descent/light complexion who passes for white, but does not share the same experiences as someone from the dominant culture. I won’t change my initial comments below–because it would be hypocritical of me to cover up my mistakes–and I hope to receive further feedback about how to improve upon my reflections –and in turn, the content of this site– to be more open and welcoming in the future.

My first Dragon*Con experience can be described in one word: overwhelming. Not surprising, since an estimated 60,000 attendees come to this convention every year. Since its humble beginnings in 1987, Dragon*Con has become one of the largest multi-media & pop culture conventions in the US, and there’s frequent debate in the geek world about whether Dragon*Con outmatches San Diego Comic Con.

Though I’ve heard about Dragon*Con, I never considered going because of distance and cost. Outland Armour begged the Wandering Legion of the Thomas Tew to attend this year, however, and so I decided to tag along with my ruffians-in-arms for the journey.

Thus, unlike other conventions I had attended, I had no set plans and didn’t intend to actively scout out the con specifically for steampunkery. I had plans on attending some of the panels listed on the alternative history track, and some other events, like the dark fantasy panels and seeing a couple of performers.

My initial schedule plans shifted, when Austin Sirkin contacted me about speaking on the Race & Gender panel, and Emilie P. Bush (who I worked with for the Race, Class & Gender roundtable at the Steampunk World’s Fair) touched base with me about speaking on the Women in Steampunk panel.

Another twist was added when the Day Job requested that I cover the convention once I told them I was attending. I try to keep a professional distance between my Day Job and my steampunk, especially since the two have so much relevance to each other. My plans for Sunday, though, changed entirely when I was scheduled to interview several authors and film the con. I was psyched about the people I got to interview (most relevant to this blog being Cherie Priest).  Because of filming, I missed out on a couple of steampunk events I wanted to go to– most notably, the Steampunk Exposition (though the Peacemaker ended up being displayed in my absence).  Sticking to the premise of the blog, though, I’ll only mention the steam events. ^-^

So I had two panels to prep for, along with making arrangements for work, in order to tackle a con I’ve never gone to before (and somehow figuring how to get down to Georgia at a reasonable price!) In the end, my experience was less steam-focused than I intended, but I did learn several valuable lessons about attending Dragon*Con. My list, plus the rest of the report after the jump.

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#38: “Sophie” Speaks–Art from Mary Sibande

Part of the “Sophie” collection by Mary Sibande

My work also looks at the ideals of beauty and femininity represented by examples of privileged members of society, and the aspirations of the less fortunate women to be like them. – Mary Sibande (source)

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#37 Technology & the World: Book Review of THE SHOCK OF THE OLD

One of the most interesting conversations I’ve had about steampunk was with Crimean Palais, who claimed steampunk was his life, but ironically, did not feel like he belonged with the steampunks he met at the Steampunk Empire community. Crimean Palais, from the Ukraine, explained why:

In fact, first I also felt myself a bit misplaced, when I joined the Empire:
You must understand: When YOU in UK or USA wear such weird glasses, its just for fun and to “play” dress-up. When people here wear such glasses, they simply WORK ;-)

The same goes for some weird instruments or machines: For people here in Ukraine, such “self-made” machines are not “a hobby”, but they simply build their own apparatuses, because they don´t have the money to buy a new one… (original emphasis kept)

Another example that brought up steampunk, technology and the non-West was during the Great Steampunk Debate, where the poster Piechur pointed out an African slum as a “real-life DIY steampunk community” that he thought was quite tragic:

What both examples have in common is the fact that, while most of the steampunk community would identify as middle or upper class from highly industrialized nations, many people who actively incorporate those “steampunk values” — re-purposing junk or found items, the importance of tactile-based technology, ingenuity based on necessity, sustaining one’s lifestyle using older technological methods — are from places other than rich communities in highly industrialized societies. The technological nostalgia we feel lacking in our lives is the reality of many communities today.

In the steampunk community, coupled with that sense of technological nostalgia is the cherished idea of innovation. Indeed, when people talk about technology, it’s usually in reference to when something was invented and by whom. Interestingly enough, the technological history of innovation and the history of use (who uses these innovations and where) are not usually associated with one another, but both are embraced in steampunk subculture. What is often taken for granted in discussions about the history of technology in steampunk, however, is the premise that old technologies are so interesting because they are not generally recognized by Western-European societies as something intrinsic to our way of life. On the other hand, however, as we have seen in the two examples above, older technologies are very much in use today in the non-West and in the developing world (for those are the places where they have having their own industrial revolutions). Moreover, the history of use becomes a key perspective that reevaluates the importance of older technologies: not just from a hobbyist’s perspective, but from a greater economic and social standpoint that concerns entire populations and countries around the world.

David Edgerton, a UK historian, writes about the impact of the history of use in his book THE SHOCK OF THE OLD: Technology and Global History Since 1900.

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#34 Fascinating Women: Dr. Yamei Kin — Guest Blog by Evangeline Holland

Editor’s Note: This article was initially published under the pseudonym Sandrine Thomas. Since then, the author has requested to change the authorship to her original name Evangeline Holland.

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Dr. Yamei Kin. Image courtesy of Edwardian Promenade.

Dr. Yamei Kin (1864-1934) was a contradiction. The product of American-upbringing and Chinese heritage, she held the traditional values of the turn-of-the-century, but was both modern and fiercely feminist. Her parents were progressive, especially her mother, who, despite submitting to the traditional practice of foot-binding, was educated at seminary and chose her own husband. Tragedy struck when a fever epidemic swept her birthplace of Ning-po (Ningbo), leaving Yamei Kin orphaned at the age of three. She was adopted by Dr. D. B. McCartee and his wife, American missionaries who moved to Japan shortly thereafter. The McCartee’s were progressive in their own right, taking care to raise their new daughter with an awareness of her heritage.

“She did not have to give up her chopsticks for knife and fork. She was allowed to wear her hair oiled flat to her head in front and in shiny braids behind, and run about in the quaint little embroidered breeches of Chinese girlhood. And before she was taught any of the English branches she was given the regular course in the Chinese classics and a course of study in Japan. Then they brought her to America to complete her education, for it had been decided that she should study medicine. She was still too young to enter college when she came to the United States, so she took a course at a preparatory school before entering the Woman’s Medical College of New York, which is affiliated with Cornell.”

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#30 Anti-Racism in 19th Century Britain–Guest Blog by Evangeline Holland

Editor’s Note: This article was initially published under the pseudonym Sandrine Thomas. Since then, the author has requested to change the authorship to her original name Evangeline Holland.

Ida B. Wells-Bennett. African-American activist who worked with anti-racist British Quaker Catherine Impey. Image courtesy of eqadams63. Click for source.

The concept of the British Empire arouses pride, pomp, and nationalism, but the darker side of the spread of English customs and mores across the globe was the specter of racism. Though British society focused more on class than race as their home-grown minority population remained small, and the relationship between the ruled and the rulers ran more towards paternalistic respect, racism and race prejudice cannot be denied. Much of the conditioning to promote and advance Imperialism had the tinge of social Darwinism, and the growing interest in eugenics (1890s-1900s) further enhanced the notion that race was biological, and whites were biologically superior to “savage blacks and yellow.” Since post-colonial studies are more interested in breaking through the influence (bad or good) the British had on their colonial possessions, it ignores the existence of people who actively fought not only slavery but racism.

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#27 The Pan-African Movement — Guest Blog by Evangeline Holland

Editor’s Note: This article was initially published under the pseudonym Sandrine Thomas. Since then, the author has requested to change the authorship to her original name Evangeline Holland.

Henry Sylvester Williams, one of the leaders of the Pan-African Movement. Image courtesy of 100greatblackbritons.com

The close of the nineteenth century saw a cementing of ideals among the African Diaspora. From history, we learn strictly about Jim Crow and the “Scramble for Africa,” which not only erases the humanity of black peoples of this period, but also pries their autonomy from their hands and paints them as victims of circumstance, or worse, passive receptacles of degradation. A deeper look reveals a surprising texture to the turn-of-the-century, where African-Americans, West Indians, and Africans exercised their rights as citizens of their respective countries while at the same time, working to forge a uniquely “African” culture on which to find strength and unity.

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