Ligne Claire: fashionthefinalfrontier: Well, tbh, you don’t need to put in Victorian...
Well, tbh, you don’t need to put in Victorian elements to make it Steampunk- that’s the brilliance of the multicultural steampunk challenge: you think how that particular culture would have evolved with just steam for power and they didn’t necessarily have…
Now, this is an interesting point. What would look steampunk if it appear in India without Victorian influences and keeping mind of Hindu taboo?
Well. It would be the same than everyday India at the time. My first try for this contest was this picture http://fav.me/d4o0pz1 . I aimed for a factory worker in a ironsmith cast. I used a saree wrap so she can have pants, much easier for working and avoiding loose fabric (the Kaccha style), her half saree is very tighly wrapped to be used both as an apron and not getting into fire or melted ore. The turban is not culturally sound for Hindu women, but an appropriation (gasp) from the Sihk culture (GASP) so she can protect her hair from the heat and dust. She has shoes with wood sole and thick-fabric gloves because leather is a bit of an uneasy subject in Hindu cutlure. There. You have Indian steampunk.
What? No pretty shiny tic toc bling bling? Well no. That’s an appropriation from Victorian culture.
We don’t want appropriation, do we?
Someone clearly does not understand what appropriation is and how it works. Clockwork is not Victorian alone, and another culture using “shiny tic toc bling bling” would definitely not be appropriating from Victoriana, because you cannot appropriate that which is a dominant, and anyway, clockwork has been used in various kinds of tech all over Asia anyway. (But steampunk that isn’t dependent on clockwork is neat tho.)
I would let the desi folk talk about the use of the turban as an appropriation from Sikh culture, but I would think that’s sensical given the setting you have the character in, where the turban is used to protect the character’s hair. Such things can grow organically out of a setting without becoming a fashion accessory that rips off all the symbolism of a religiously-worn turban.
But it would still be a form of appropriation, because you’re white, trying to call the shots on a non-white fashion without checking in on what non-white folks think. But then, since you’re such an authority on what would constitute Indian steampunk without actual Indians having a say anyway, I’m guessing you wouldn’t agree.
Okay I understand you point. But clockwork and steampunk are heavilly linked, to the point were an unadorned character isn’t always identified as “steampunk” at first glance. Now, the definition of steampunk can vary from neo-victorian style to heavily clockworked esthetic. That’s another debate, but for me, what’s the point of steampunk if there isn’t the shiny tic toc blingery? That’s what make steampunk fun! (Okay it may came out at ignorant and arrogant but if I’m not allowed to like something for fun, my life will be very very dull)
I did search for pictures from the 1850 to 1880 in India, I looked at art, I searched for clothes that doesn’t come from modern fashions site of designer saree, I tried to look for books in the library about ancient India but it can only get me so far. Information I can get is generally among the line of: “Indian women wore this and this. Clothes were made with this”. Even searching about leather use in clothes was an headache because noone seemed to agree and every definition I found was modern.
If there is an Indian or Desi woman here, both interested in steampunk and her own ancient history, can she tell me what should be a steampunk Indian costume? What material are allowed or not? If the design has a meaning, if some clothes were allowed into some casts but not in others? Which patterns were common at the time? Which colors? What was the meaning of the jewelry? what symbol were religious and thus to be use with care and which were just decorative? All the question I ask myself when I draw my two pictures and I couldn’t find precise answer. I end up taking a lot from royal picture and victorian fashion because those were the only two sources that seemed trustworthy.
But the part that did bother me was the comment of someone on Shoomlah’s Tumblr, who said that he or she will only read a story about her character if it was draw by a desi woman.
Does that mean that, as a white female artist from France, I can’t draw anything outside of my own culture or history without it being an ungly appropriation? Does that mean that the only “steampunk” I can draw is french coal miner from the North of France because that the only thing I know enough to not be offensive to anyone’s culture?
If I took that to the farthest extent: Does it mean that ALL I can draw must be based on the french culture? That I can’t have an asian character? That my comics shouldn’t be about a black little girl doing voodoo in the Bayou? That everything I learned as an artist by copying manga and comics when I was a child is an appropriation? That every research I can do is meaningless if I’m not from the culture I research from?
As an artist, what can I do? Where is the limit of my creative license? I’m not sarcastic this time, I swear, I’m just asking: What I am allowed to do?
You’re allowed to do whatever you want.
Just be aware that your audience is also allowed to do whatever they want.
I, too, am allowed to have my preferences on the source of the creative works I consume. I am allowed to prefer non-white artists and producers, because there are so few of us.
White people producing non-white stuff? You’re a dime a dozen.
This is not to say you’re not allowed. Nobody is giving you permission, because no one has the right to do so. Getting defensive with “GIVE ME PERMISSION” is the refuge of the artist who isn’t interested in hearing what an audience, that is not even hers, has to say and cultural production.
I think your idea sounds very fine indeed, but again, you could find an audience that would take your character’s story at face value, and you would still have non-white peoples saying, “I would read this only if a desi author was writing it”. There are a TON of reasons why they would say such a thing.
There is often a sense that there is no room for non-white artists to express their work and get recognition for it. I, personally, have seen my non-white friends get ignored for producing high-quality artwork. That is what “I would rather see a desi author” sentiment addresses. It in no way takes away from your work, nor your audience.