Beyond Victoriana is a blog about multicultural steampunk and retro-futurism—that is, steampunk outside of a Western-dominant, Eurocentric framework. All of the steampunkery here focuses on non-Western cultures, underrepresented minorities (Asian / Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, First Nation / indigenous / NDN, Hispanic / Latin@, black / African) and other marginalized groups in Western histories, and the cultural intersection between the West and the non-West. The steampunk here deals with the “little s” definition and leans towards inclusive as opposed to exclusive. Topics featured on this blog will include but is not limited to: history, literature, art & fashion, science & technology. The time range will focus on both the Victorian and Edwardian eras, but also is not limited to them (as with the case of post-apocalyptic steam and steampunk/fantasy genre). This blog is also open to highlighting examples of steampunk from the current community and items that can be considered under the steampunk umbrella.
The intention of this blog is to start conversations with steampunk enthusiasts, to expand cultural mindsets, to question the stereotypical representations of “steampunk.” This blog is my own personal space, but is available for contributors to comment, interact and communicate about how steampunk can be equally treated as a global historical genre and not limit itself to one geographical area or Eurocentric mindset.
Beyond Victoriana does subscribe to a specific steampunk philosophy. Steampunk, because it’s an aesthetic & a subgenre inspired by a time period fraught with a complex social and political history, is never apolitical. The nineteenth century was a time of intellectual achievement, innovation, and geopolitical expansion. At the same time, that greatness came at the expense of slavery, oppression, social inequality, and racism. These problems did not go away once the Victorian era ended, and in fact, the social scars are still visible upon our society today. So when speaking about steampunk from non-Eurocentric settings, difficult issues about race, class, marginalized histories, and cultural appropriation will be addressed.
Steampunk, because it’s a modern style and has a social community, is also reflective of society and people today. Current social ills cannot be dismissed as irrelevant to steampunk, because we bring ourselves into steampunk. And we are not people built from nothing, but from what we are born with and born into.
In light of this, Beyond Victoriana’s content does not seek to promote “color blindness”, racist narratives, and stereotypes (of all sorts-racial, gender, class, religious, sexual orientation, age or ability). This blog will not encourage flat definitions of “multiculturalism” that result in blind cultural appropriation or tokenism. This blog will not encourage the use of terminology that has racist underpinnings. What this blog will seek out and foster, however, is a greater communication about the sociopolitical issues that pervade steampunk, and through thought and example, how steampunk’s definition can be expanded so that it, like all forms of worthwhile creativity, can be reflective of the entire scope of the human experience.
Started in October 2009, Beyond Victoriana was first hosted on Dreamwidth and LiveJournal as a personal steampunk project. It was inspired (or, perhaps, prompted by) the seeming lack of non-Eurocentric representation in the genre and the Racefail science fiction/fantasy discussions which began in January 2009.
Beyond Victoriana has been hosted here since March 2010.
The blog banner was created by Kim Pho.
About the Author
Diana M. Pho (also known as Ay-leen the Peacemaker) is a scholar, activist, performer, and general rabble-rouser. She is best-known for running Beyond Victoriana, an award-winning, US-based blog on multicultural steampunk, and the oldest-existing blog on this topic. For several years, she has traveled the country as a professional convention speaker about social justice issues and fandom. Her published work can be found in Steampunk Magazine: Issues 1 – 7, Fashion Talks: Undressing the Power of Style, Steaming into a Victorian Future, the Journal of Victorian Culture Online, Overland magazine, and The Anatomy of Steampunk. She also has work in Steampunk World, edited by Sarah Hans, Like Clockwork, edited by Professors Brian Croxall and Rachel Bowser, and The Steampunk User’s Manual by Jeff Vandermeer and Desirina Boskovich. She has been interviewed about fandom for many media outlets, including BBC America, the Travel Channel, HGTV, CBS’s Inside Edition, MSN.com, and the Science Channel; the websites Airship Ambassador, Racialicious, and NerdCaliber; and the books The Steampunk Bible, Steampunk: Reloaded, and The WisCon Chronicles Vol 5.
Diana currently lives and works in New York City as an editor for Tor Books & blogs for Tor.com. You can follow her academic work on Academia.edu.
This policy is valid from 04 March 2010
This blog is a personal blog written and edited by Diana M. Pho, also known as Ay-leen the Peacemaker. For questions about this blog, please contact attic [dot] hermit [at] gmail [dot] com.
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