Date: 2016-06-29 09:50 pm (UTC)
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
From: [personal profile] melannen
I don't know, I don't feel like making the antagonists "Those people in the other country" is inherently more othering than making them "those ~mystical~ indigenous people we kicked out of the land". Or maybe I'm misreading your point there.

But, I mean, it wouldn't have to be "those people over in the other country did the bad thing" - I was thinking more "our people did the bad thing because we were scared of those people over there", or maybe "our people and those people over there teamed up to scare people because they wanted a war and it got out of control", or even "we did a bad thing to those people over the mountains a long time ago and now it's coming home to roost". In terms of those themes you're referencing I don't think it would have to be that different? Possibly even better in terms of current politics.

Like. Change the angry indigenous tree person into an ancient, angry trapped war-mage or refugee woman from an old war that ended in stalemate? Or even an angry spirit of the land but without the colonialist backstory.

Some of the emotional resonances in the ending would be different, but that would mostly be because we wouldn't be getting the hit of pure sweet white-guilt-soothing reassurance that taking the land away from the indigenous people is okay because their culture was fading anyway plus they're ~more enlightened~. And I think most of the themes that were important to main characters' journeys and the book as a whole could stay mostly the same - the explicitly colonialist part of the story really didn't become at all relevant until you got to the very end and then it suddenly appeared.

You could even still do it with settlers and indigenous people but I feel like you would have to change the ending so that they aren't being voluntarily erased from their own story, and that *would* have an emotionally very different ending.


IDK, possibly it stuck out to me because my sister is studying settlement patterns and 'wilderness' in medieval Europe, but the way the settlement was laid out in Uprooted was so very much an American storyline even while she tried very hard to site the story in Fake Poland. When you settle the "wilderness" in Europe you aren't taking over the land of the Erased Other, you are resettling land that has been repeatedly settled and then abandoned by your ancestors and/or your neighbors' ancestors; if you are taking wilderness land from someone, it's from your own ancient dead. Or you are fighting a war. The American sort of 'settling the might-as-well-be-empty frontier' founding myth turns up a lot in American-written secondary-world fantasy, and it can be done well and thoughtfully, or it can be done in a way that really feels like the author has just never noticed how much falling back on it is a symptom of living on colonized and genocided land.

(I mean, Terra Nullius as a doctrine certainly predates modern colonialism, but the way it played out - and soaked into story - pre-Columbus was a lot different.)

And it is so well-soaked-in to the shape of our stories that it's *hard* to work around it? Like. Riddle-Master, my favorite high fantasy series ever, can be summarized in a way that makes it a really yucky White Savior story where Settler Dude gets initiated into indigenous powers and then uses them to Fix Everything because none of the fading-out indigenous people were good enough. But I wouldn't be voting it in for a 2016 Hugo award, either. Even if it is still my favorite.


Sorry for spewing this all over your comments! I guess it had been festering.
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