Cultural Appropriation and Writing Fantasy Outside Western Tradition
Not all fantasy fiction is, or indeed should, came from faery, from Middle Earth, from Tolkien or from other Western European traditions. Not everything should be pseudo-medieval in nature, and it seems that more and more fantasy authors are drawing upon other cultural frameworks in fashioning their fictions. Yet, that comes with its own issues, such as cultural appropriation. A discussion of the embrace of neglected mythoi, and the pitfalls that may await the adventurous traveler there.
yhlee, one of the panelists, posts some thoughts on how it went. (This is the post as replicated at deadbrowalking, aka The People of Color Deathwatch; a Live Journal community.) An excerpt:
- When intent isn't good enough.
You can't judge intent from within the pages of the book, although I suppose you can guess. You can go into your writing with the intent of an angel and still emerge with subconscious racism or sexism or any other -ism. Or hell, what's just plain a bad book. (I'll spare you the examples.) I'm not arguing that it's a bad thing to go into writing about another culture mindfully; I think it should be done more often. But it seems (as we say in math) necessary-but-not-sufficient.
- Minority writers.
No one self-identifies as a "majority writer." That's a problem right there.
The Wiscon Live Journal community has a summary of some of the posts on the topic.