C is for Cultural Imperialism

C is for Cultural Imperialism

This post was kindled into being thanks to the brilliant and talented Aliette de Bodard (whose excellent story Immersion on Clarkesworld is a must-read if you haven’t already). The germ of this was born over Twitter conversations, and she gathered a bunch of like-minded SF/F writers & interested parties to come up with this: The Western Cultural Imperialism Bingo Card. (ETA: Aliette pointed out that Charles Tan first mooted the idea on Twitter, and then gained a life of its own!)

To be quite honest, I wasn’t around for most of this project’s gestation – I was away, covering a local by-election for work – but I feel the end product echoes a lot of what I have seen, read and experienced, particularly as someone who has worked in the media and news industries for a number of years.

As a diasporic Chinese Anglophone born in a former British colony – and whose parents were in fact subjects of the British Empire when they were born – I am all too aware of the slings and arrows of Western cultural imperialism. I’ve only skirted around the topic briefly on this blog; for me, acknowledging that Western cultural imperialism is actually A Thing took me a long time, and many many years. “West Is Best” is a difficult mindset to shake off, particularly when it’s insidiously drilled into us everyday. I think it’s important to have conversations about this, since it’s an “ism” that often gets overlooked, especially in its more subtle forms. Rest assured that this is not the last time I’ll bring up the topic on this blog.

So. Without further ado:

Presenting the Cultural Imperialim Bingo Card

If you think colonialism is dead… think again. Globalisation has indeed made the world smaller–furthering the dominance of the West over the developing world, shrinking and devaluing local cultures, and uniformising everything to Western values and Western ways of life. This is a pernicious, omnipresent state of things that leads to the same unfounded things being said, over and over, to people from developing countries and/or on developing countries.

It’s time for this to stop. Time for the hoary, horrid misrepresentation clichés to be pointed out and examined; and for genuine, non-dismissive conversations to start.

Accordingly, here’s a handy bingo card for Western Cultural Imperialism–and we wish we could say we’ve made it all up, but unfortunately every single comment on this card was seen on the Internet.

Card designed by Aliette de Bodard, Joyce Chng, Kate Elliott, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, @requireshate, Charles Tan, @automathic and @MizHalle. Launch orchestrated with the help of Zen Cho and Ekaterina Sedia in addition to above authors (and an army of volunteer signal boosters whom we wish to thank very much!)


Related links:

On the World SF blog
On Joyce’s blog
On Rochita’s blog
On the Cogsmith
On Aliette’s blog

Feel free to signal-boost, repost, make suggestions, and generally talk about it!

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