People of Color in European Art History


  1. Diversity in Writing

    elloellenoh:

    I did this post for Write on Com. Figured it would be worth sharing here also.

    Diversity in Writing

    by author Ellen Oh

    Recently, I was part of a conversation where an author said the following: “But there’s been a lot of anger from some quarters about “appropriation” and “exoticism” … I’m terrified of incurring the kind of wrath I’ve seen online, and have decided I’m not qualified to tackle diversity head on.”

    Guys, if this is you, then I want to talk to you about why it is okay to “tackle diversity.” If you are the type to say, “Yes, I want to include diversity! I just don’t know how.” I want to talk to you too, because there are right ways and wrong ways to do it. But mostly I want to tell you how important it is that you all are trying. Thank you for that. Because I was once that little girl scanning through the books desperately looking for someone like me, who wasn’t a stereotype. And now I have kids who are doing the same thing. Thank you for wanting to have this conversation.

    But if you are scared about being called out for including diversity in your book, then wake up and smell the diapers, children, because you are not going to be able to make everybody happy. Someone somewhere is going to be offended for something you wrote and for a reason that you never intended! You wrote a girl empowerment book? How dare you put down feminine girls! You wrote about sexual exploitation? How dare you write a slut shaming book! You wrote a POC main character? How dare you white person try and exploit minorities!

    Look, I’m Korean American and I wrote a fantasy book based in ancient Korea. I studied it for 10 years on top of all that I knew from being raised by Korean immigrants. And yet I had plenty of people bash me for getting things “wrong” about Korean culture in my book – and most of them weren’t even Korean! So the one thing I can promise you with absolute assurance is, someone somewhere is going to be irate at you for writing. Whether it is the fact that you wrote a POC character or the fact that you are posing in your author picture with a hand to your cheek, someone is going to hate you for something. Listen, you are not ever going to make everyone happy. That’s just human nature. I bet someone out there is reading this post right now and pissed off at me just because they don’t like my face. What can you do? You can start not caring about making everybody happy.

    Now writing about POC is a bit different in that most people are afraid of being called a racist. So they avoid diversity because of it. However, let me reassure you that by not including diversity, you are also being called a racist. Maybe not to your face, but you are. And guess what? Being called a racist is nowhere near as painful as dealing with actual racism.

    Now that I have freed you from the fear of being reviled on the internet, let’s talk about a few things that you need to keep in mind:

    1. Do your research and be respectful. Don’t culturally appropriate from POC and then claim that your world is different therefore you can do whatever the hell you want with it. Call your world whatever you want, but if your world looks and sounds like China, and you even use Chinese words and architecture and terms specific to that culture, then don’t pretend it’s not China and mix us up with every other Asian culture. It just reeks of sloppy research and not giving a damn. If you want your world to feel Asian without specifically calling out a specific country, it can be done – see Eon/Eona. See The Last Airbender series.
    2. Avoid stereotypes. There are many. The magical negro, the blonde bimbo, the smart Asian math whiz, the ghetto talking black kid, the feisty Latina, the Asian dragon lady, the cryptic but wise Native American, the uppercrusty WASP, etc. Using stereotypes is lazy writing. You don’t want to invest in your character’s development to go beyond an easily recognizable trope. Don’t do this.
    3. Exotification of another culture. “But remember, there are two ways to dehumanize someone: by dismissing them, and by idolizing them.” ? David Wong. I think the context of this quote was about women and how men view them. But it works well in this context also. If you don’t include POC in your book, you are dismissing them. If you do include POC but make them exotic and other-worldish, you are going the other way. Neither is acceptable.
    4. Check your privilege. Don’t get mad that I used the “P” word. I know privilege can be a touchy subject. Asking you to be aware of your privilege is not the same as calling you a racist. What I’m doing is asking you to be aware of it. If you are a female, then you know that male privilege is very real. Take what you understand as male privilege and make a correlation to white privilege and you will see what I mean. And if it helps, read this: http://ted.coe.wayne.edu/ele3600/mcintosh.html
    5. Reach out to minorities for help.  If you know nothing about the culture that you want to include in your book, then reach out for help. Yes, you can find a lot of information on the internet, but some things you can only learn from people who live that culture 24/7.

    It won’t be easy, and it shouldn’t be! You will probably make mistakes. And that’s ok! You’ll learn from them and you will fail less and less the more you try. But the most important thing is that you try. Because you are writing for kids. All our kids! And they need to see that their books can reflect their world.

    What I appreciate the most about this post is how it gels with the most recent convo about cultural appropriation I had. All too often I get asks that boil down to “How can I avoid, prevent, or circumvent people calling out my writing if it’s racist?”

    The answer is, obviously, you can’t. People will respond to what you write, and there’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t control that. And if that makes you uncomfortable, well, I’ll just reiterate: being called racist isn’t comparable to actually having to deal with racism.

  2. myrddin-emrys:

Disclaimer: This is not my own idea; I got the tip from the lovely Elentari-liv, who was kind enough to share her technique with me. This is only showing the basics I’ve used to knit the scales, not how to make any certain piece.
Also, keep in mind that I’m still a beginner at knitting. I’ve been doing it for approximately two weeks.
What you’ll need:
circular knitting needles
yarn
small scales
You’ll probably want to choose a yarn close to your scale colour, or one that complements it (I used a contrasting one here to make things easier to show). You may have to experiment a bit with the yarn gauge and size of the needles. I ended up using gauge three yarn and size six needles after some testing. Larger needles widened the gap between scales, so that the yarn was visible in between, which I didn’t want, and thicker yarn made the scales stick out too much as opposed to hanging. It looked like I was knitting a very ruffled dragon.
Scales can be purchased from The Ring Lord, with multiple choices of colour and material. I’ve experimented with both aluminum and steel; the steel seems to hang better because of its weight, but it all depends on what you need for your project!
(I’m putting the actual process under a read more because I do have a lot of photos.)
Read More

I’m gonna go ahead and put this under the resources tag for reenactors, cosplayers, Rennies and SCA-ers!

    myrddin-emrys:

    Disclaimer: This is not my own idea; I got the tip from the lovely Elentari-liv, who was kind enough to share her technique with me. This is only showing the basics I’ve used to knit the scales, not how to make any certain piece.

    Also, keep in mind that I’m still a beginner at knitting. I’ve been doing it for approximately two weeks.

    What you’ll need:

    • circular knitting needles
    • yarn
    • small scales

    You’ll probably want to choose a yarn close to your scale colour, or one that complements it (I used a contrasting one here to make things easier to show). You may have to experiment a bit with the yarn gauge and size of the needles. I ended up using gauge three yarn and size six needles after some testing. Larger needles widened the gap between scales, so that the yarn was visible in between, which I didn’t want, and thicker yarn made the scales stick out too much as opposed to hanging. It looked like I was knitting a very ruffled dragon.

    Scales can be purchased from The Ring Lord, with multiple choices of colour and material. I’ve experimented with both aluminum and steel; the steel seems to hang better because of its weight, but it all depends on what you need for your project!

    (I’m putting the actual process under a read more because I do have a lot of photos.)

    Read More

    I’m gonna go ahead and put this under the resources tag for reenactors, cosplayers, Rennies and SCA-ers!

    (via moniquill)

  3. haitianhistory:

Hello, here is another edition of our “weekly” bulletin.
o1. First of all, we are very sorry for not updating as much as we used to. School and work have, in a large measure, prevented us for updating the blog more regularly. 
o2. New Layout! We got a bit tired of the previous one and felt this new, brighter look would be appropriate for the season.  We used old images of Port-Au-Prince from the Centre International de Documentation et d’Information Haïtienne, Caribéenne et Afro-canadienne (CIDIHCA) and the Bibliothèque nationale de France - Gallica.
o3. Speaking of images, we’ve updated our FAQ to reflect some of the more recent questions we’ve received at this blog and at our gmail address.
o4. We updated and added new documents to our Primary Source page. (It seems many of you are reading primary sources on Haiti, as a good number of those have been digitalized and are freely accessible on the Web. While this is great news, I still think it wise to review this little guide on reading and interpreting primary sources, to make sure you can both appreciate the value of those documents while making sure not to take all its content too literally.) We are always glad to know of new additions, if you have any documents you’d like to suggest to this list, contact us.
That’s all. Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week. =)

^ This is a good history blog, with great guides to researching and interpreting primary sources. I highly recommend checking it out.

    haitianhistory:

    Hello, here is another edition of our “weekly” bulletin.

    o1. First of all, we are very sorry for not updating as much as we used to. School and work have, in a large measure, prevented us for updating the blog more regularly. 

    o2. New Layout! We got a bit tired of the previous one and felt this new, brighter look would be appropriate for the season.  We used old images of Port-Au-Prince from the Centre International de Documentation et d’Information Haïtienne, Caribéenne et Afro-canadienne (CIDIHCA) and the Bibliothèque nationale de France - Gallica.

    o3. Speaking of images, we’ve updated our FAQ to reflect some of the more recent questions we’ve received at this blog and at our gmail address.

    o4. We updated and added new documents to our Primary Source page. (It seems many of you are reading primary sources on Haiti, as a good number of those have been digitalized and are freely accessible on the Web. While this is great news, I still think it wise to review this little guide on reading and interpreting primary sources, to make sure you can both appreciate the value of those documents while making sure not to take all its content too literally.) We are always glad to know of new additions, if you have any documents you’d like to suggest to this list, contact us.

    That’s all. Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week. =)

    ^ This is a good history blog, with great guides to researching and interpreting primary sources. I highly recommend checking it out.

  4. ^ This is the British Library Digitized Manuscripts Site.

    A lot of people have asked about my process doing research for medievalpoc. I use a lot of resources and tools that are readily available for anyone to use, and this is one of them. There are thousands of manuscripts available to just page through and zoom in on, as if you had the book right in front of you.

    If the idea of searching through endless lists of titles and numbers is daunting to you, the Digitized Medieval Manuscripts Collection has a blog.

    The blog makes topical posts with images of the manuscripts according to those topics, and then links to the full manuscripts, so you can go looking at them yourself:

    Like so:

    You can learn what the heck a Leucrota is supposed to be here.

    They also have a Twitter.

    One of the best things about medievalpoc is that I get to see people get excited about art and history, and if you decide you’d like to go exploring, this is a great place to do that. I think the manuscript viewer is relatively user-friendly, and there’s a ton of information about the histories of the manuscripts themselves there, too.

  5. dieschwarzealraune:

    medievalpoc:

    Anonymous, School of Lucas Cranach I

    Pfirtscher Altar, Left Wing: Saint Maurice

    Germany (1524)

    Oil on Wood, left wing, 93 x 41 cm.

    München, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen.

    The Image of the Black in Western Art Research Project and Photo Archive, W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University

    Where can I get a pair of those pauldrons?

    Dark Knight has a good selection of leather pauldrons, and steel ones too. Not exact, but some are pretty close.

  6. Anonymous wrote...

    My characters are white because they're the 'default' race for me, a mixup of everything. I see no benefits in making them a certain ethnicity just to improve diversity? And it makes sense to me that the supporting cast are also white (1)

    thewritingcafe:

    Since when I look around at the groups of friends around me, they more or less bunch off according to race. (Whites, asians, jocks (I know this is not a race), mainly). It just seems easier to make everyone white, why is that a bad thing? (2/2)

    These will tell you why it is a problem that white people are the default and why representation is important:

    Reasons why I have never and will never turn on anon, #5,409.

    Anyhow these are all great resources on race and representation, and why it’s very, very important (if it wasn’t already obvious from the anon ask).

  7. the-history-of-fighting:

Dahomey’s Warrior Women

Speaking of West Africa, the Dahomey Warrior Women involves a fascinating history that spans nearly 200 years. It was during this time that the elite squad of female warriors fought and died for the border rights and inter-tribal issues in the ancient kingdom of Dahomey.
These women, who outranked their male counterparts, were given far more privileges, including the ability to  come and go from the palaces as they pleased (unlike the men). They were so revered for their warrior prowess, The Smithsonian explains, that men were taught to keep their distance:
“Recruiting women into the Dahomean army was not especially difficult, despite the requirement to climb thorn hedges and risk life and limb in battle. Most West African women lived lives of forced drudgery. Gezo’s female troops lived in his compound and were kept well supplied with tobacco, alcohol and slaves – as many as 50 to each warrior, according to the noted traveler Sir Richard Burton, who visited Dahomey in the 1860s. And “when amazons walked out of the palace,” notes Alpern, “they were preceded by a slave girl carrying a bell. The sound told every male to get out of their path, retire a certain distance, and look the other way.” To even touch these women meant death.”
Yet as colonialist ambitions grew in the region, the Dahomey female warriors eventually grew sparse. Fierce combat missions to crush the independent kingdom eventually succeeded, and in the 1940s, it is said that the last of the female warriors died.
www.care2.com


I’ve posted about this incredible military force for 1800s Week previously, and you can read more about women warriors of color in this Masterpost. There’s also Amazons of Black Sparta: The Women Warriors of Dahomey by Stanley B. Alpern.

    the-history-of-fighting:

    Dahomey’s Warrior Women

    Speaking of West Africa, the Dahomey Warrior Women involves a fascinating history that spans nearly 200 years. It was during this time that the elite squad of female warriors fought and died for the border rights and inter-tribal issues in the ancient kingdom of Dahomey.

    These women, who outranked their male counterparts, were given far more privileges, including the ability to  come and go from the palaces as they pleased (unlike the men). They were so revered for their warrior prowess, The Smithsonian explains, that men were taught to keep their distance:

    “Recruiting women into the Dahomean army was not especially difficult, despite the requirement to climb thorn hedges and risk life and limb in battle. Most West African women lived lives of forced drudgery. Gezo’s female troops lived in his compound and were kept well supplied with tobacco, alcohol and slaves – as many as 50 to each warrior, according to the noted traveler Sir Richard Burton, who visited Dahomey in the 1860s. And “when amazons walked out of the palace,” notes Alpern, “they were preceded by a slave girl carrying a bell. The sound told every male to get out of their path, retire a certain distance, and look the other way.” To even touch these women meant death.”

    Yet as colonialist ambitions grew in the region, the Dahomey female warriors eventually grew sparse. Fierce combat missions to crush the independent kingdom eventually succeeded, and in the 1940s, it is said that the last of the female warriors died.

    www.care2.com

    I’ve posted about this incredible military force for 1800s Week previously, and you can read more about women warriors of color in this Masterpost. There’s also Amazons of Black Sparta: The Women Warriors of Dahomey by Stanley B. Alpern.

    (via so-treu)

  8. mornin-mr-magpie wrote...

    Hi! I am sorry to bother you with such a pointed question but I am working on my MA thesis on the Representation of Madness of PoC in Early Modern English literature and am having a hell of a time locating any resources, both literary and, especially, history based. Early modern documentation of this eludes me...I was wondering if either you or any of your followers could help point me in the direction of some historical sources? and if i finally come across anything i would be happy to share!

    Actually, pointed questions help because they’re usually specific.

    I have a few things, but a major problem with this topic is that “mentally ill” and “people of color” are written about in historical writing as if they are mutually exclusive categories. Especially writing about Europe.

    What I have on hand is going to be related to my particular specialization, but I’ll post what I have.

    Here’s a painting from Italy c. 1550, entitled “The Crazy Lovers” (Bartolomeo Passarotti):

    image

    image

    There are some resources at the link to the original post above.

    One exhibit you might be interested in investigating is “Riotous Baroque: From Cattelan to Zurbarán" at the Guggenheim:

    Usually associated with dynamism, sensuality, extravagance, and theatricality, withdrawn from the quiet solemnity of classical forms, the baroque era also exemplified an age of instability, marking the collapse of an established order. As noted by the art historian Erwin Panofsky, the baroque was founded in “the victory of subjectivism, which aims to express suffering and humor in equal measure.”

    AFAIK it’s pan-European, so you’ll probably be able to find something you can tie into the whole English literature theme. Here’s a little more on another “Riotous Baroque” artist, Pieter Aersten.

    There’s always the works of Shakespeare as well, and I think that barbotrobot’s fascinating post on the internalized racism of Othello might be a good place to sort of get into how being subjected to racism and stereotypes can drastically affect the mental health and well-being of people of color in white supremacist environments.

    Here’s the post with primary documents (photocopies and transcripts from Elizabeth I’s own hand) that give the historical context on the Black British during the Tudor/Elizabethan era in England. It expands on the usual narrative about the famous Poor Laws being passed as a response to the previous system of Feudalism starting to break down during the 16th and 17th centuries. What a lot of places leave out is that the Black British were used as scapegoats more than once in the attempt to remove supposed throngs of indigent, unstable, and out-of-work “Blackamoores” from England. It didn’t work, since people are not likely to report their good neighbors to be deported, since we’re talking regular folks-cobbler’s apprentices, middle class guildsmen and servants, craftspeople, et cetera.

    I have a reading list from the Victoria and Albert Museum on Black and Asian performance in British History, which I think can be easily tied into Early Modern European ideas about madness, religion, and other views from the margins of British Society in literature:

    • Alexander, Catherine M.S., and Stanley Wells, eds. Shakespeare and Race,. Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2000.
    • Banham, Martin, and others, eds.  African Theatre: Playwrights & Politics.  Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001.
    • Banham, Martin, and others, eds. The Cambridge Companion to African and Caribbean Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
    • Bean, Annemarie, ed.  A Sourcebook of African-American Performance: Plays, People, Movements. London: Routledge, 1999.
    • Bourne, Stephen.  Black in the British Frame: The Black Experience in British Film and Television. 2nd edn. London: Continuum, 2001.
    • Brandon, James R., ed. The Cambridge Guide to Asian Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
    • Croft, Susan, and others. Black and Asian Performance at the Theatre Museum: A User’s Guide. London: V&A Theatre Museum, 2003.
    • Donnell, Alison, ed. Companion to Contemporary Black British Culture. London: Routledge, 2002.
    • Harris, Roxy, and Sarah White, eds. Changing Britannia: Life Experience with Britain. London: New Beacon, 1999.
    • Harrison, Paul Carter, and others, ed. Black Theatre: Ritual Performance in the Black Diaspora. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2002.
    • Layiwola, Dele, ed. African Theatre in Performance: A Festschrift in Honour of Martin Banham. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic, 2000.
    • Lindfors, Bernth, ed. Africans on Stage: Studies in Ethnological Business. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999.
    • Tompsett, A. Ruth, ed. Black Theatre in Britain. in ’Performing Arts International’. 1996, vol. I, part 2

    If I think of anything else, I’ll be sure to add it here, as well as any recommendation from readers! Best of luck with your thesis, and PLEASE let me know how it turns out!

  9. ☛ The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition presents its fifth international conference: Collective Degradation: Slavery and the Construction of Race [aka PDFs GALORE!!!!!!!!!]

    While scholars have largely accepted the view that race is a socially-constructed concept, the complex processes of its formation are not well understood — in large part because of the wide and diverse range of contributing factors. The fifth international conference of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition will explore the relationship between the enslavement of Africans and the construction of early and modern conceptions of race and racial hierarchies. The conference will bring together scholars of Graeco-Roman and Biblical antiquity, medieval Europe and early Islam, with authorities on Enlightenment, 19th- and early 20th-century European and American racial thought, with the goal of exchanging and combining insights from a wide range of historical periods and disciplines.

    The schedule for the conference is as follows:

    FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 7

    9:00-11:45 Session 1:

    Benjamin Isaac, Tel Aviv University: Slavery and Proto-racism in Graeco-Roman Antiquity
    David Goldenberg, University of Pennsylvania: Early Christian & Jewish Views of Blacks 
    Comment: James Brewer Stewart, Macalester College

    12:45-3:30 Session 2:

    Benjamin Braude, Boston College: Ham and Noah: Sexuality, Servitudinism, and Ethnicity 
    Peter Biller, University of York, U.K.: The “Black” in Medieval European Scientific Discussions of Regions & Peoples
    Comment: Matthew Jacobson, Yale University

    3:30-6:00 Session 3:

    John Hunwick, Northwestern University: Medieval and Later Arab Views of Blacks
    James Sweet, Florida International University: Africans in the Iberian World
    Comment: Barbara Fields, Columbia University

    SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 8

    8:00-10:45 Session 4:

    Nell Irvin Painter, Princeton University: Why White People Are Called “Caucasian”
    George Fredrickson, Stanford University: Race & Ethnicity in the U.S. and France
    Comment: Clarence Walker, University of California, Davis

    10:45-1:15 Session 5:

    Patrick J. Rael, Bowdoin College: Black Responses to Scientific Racism in the Antebellum North
    Stanley Engerman, University of Rochester: Racism Without Slavery and Slavery Without Racism in the Mainland North America
    Comment: Jennifer Baszile, Yale University

    2:00-4:30 Session 6:

    Lacy K. Ford, University of South Carolina: Slavery and Racist Thought in the American South, 1789-1865 
    John Stauffer, Harvard University: White Abolitionists and Antebellum Racism
    Comment: Kariann Yokota, Yale University

    4:45-5:30 Summation:

    Tom Holt, University of Chicago

    Oh, wow! Resources galore!

  10. laissezferre:

    corseque:

    Ahhh! This is so cool!

    An author was writing historical fiction, and decided (in hopes of escaping anachronistic language) to only use the vocabulary that Jane Austen used. They made a custom dictionary of all the words Jane Austen used in all of her books, and used that to spell check, so it flagged modern words and phrases that she would have totally overlooked otherwise.

    I’m thinking it would be incredibly easy to do the same thing for fanfiction, especially book-based - compile a dictionary of, say, all the words GRRM used in ASOIAF, and use that as a spell check dictionary so it would flag any words GRRM did not use…

    Or a particular TV show character’s dialogue, though that would involve much more manual effort…

    edit: apparently, some historical fiction authors use old dictionaries (circa: 1700-1800s) as their custom dictionaries, even when writing about much earlier time periods. This helps them escape writing with modern-sounding anachronisms that throw modern readers out of the story, but also allows them to use language that a modern reader can understand when writing about time periods where characters should be speaking, say, Old English.

    friendly reminder that such a thing has been developed for the les mis fandom 

    These are some great resources for authors of historical fiction (and/or fan fiction)!

    (via mumblingsage)