DnD addresses racism.

Terminal Blue

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For instance, have a friend who has African ancestry, despite being fair-skinned, and predominantly of Italian ancestry. Do you think he could go around claiming African ancestry without raising similar eyebrows?
Yes.

White people absolutely eat that shit up.

Now, if he goes around claiming he's black or talking about his N-word pass, that's probably going to piss off black people. But that's a very different thing.

I know why those things are things, I don't know why it disproves my point.
Your point is silly because it's a misrepresentation of basic features of Afrocentrism. Afrocentrism as an idea only works in the context of a world created by white supremacy and Eurocentrism.

That's why it's called Afrocentrism, because it's a response to the unconscious assumptions of Eurocentrism.

The fact that you have to resort to insignificant fringe attempts to claim Beethoven as black in order to find a conceptual space where claiming of cultural ancestry can take place on equal terms (not that that's even what we're talking about, but I'll allow it) should have clued you in to how desperate your argument really is. The question you should be asking is why does it matter that Beethoven was white? What does white Beethoven mean? Where does the idea of aborigines as the "oldest" culture actually come from, and what does it mean? Why do these ideas even matter?

Because what you will find when you look at these ideas is that they are responses to unconscious assumptions of Eurocentrism.

"African identity" really has its roots in the likes of Garvey. It's a reaction to imperialism, not a mandate from imperialism.
I'm pretty sure the white people engaged in Imperialism knew what an African was, and could explain to you the various features and cultural traits that characterized an African as opposed to a European.

Pan-Africanists didn't invent that distinction.

And does that come back to orcs? Because if not, this has gone way off-topic.
There are lots of cultural representations in D&D beyond orcs.

1603095323881.png

But if you wanna confine this to orcs, then yeah. It applies to orcs as much as anyone.
 

Hawki

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Yes.

White people absolutely eat that shit up.
...if you say so?

Now, if he goes around claiming he's black or talking about his N-word pass, that's probably going to piss off black people. But that's a very different thing.
Again, if you say so. I've never heard the N-word used in my life before (as in on a person-to-person level).

Your point is silly because it's a misrepresentation of basic features of Afrocentrism. Afrocentrism as an idea only works in the context of a world created by white supremacy and Eurocentrism.
The most basic features of Afrocentrism are studying history through an African lens.

Historically, Afrocentrism is a reaction to Eurocentrism. It can easily operate outside it. There's no shortage of "centrisms" that exist in the world.

The fact that you have to resort to insignificant fringe attempts to claim Beethoven as black in order to find a conceptual space where claiming of cultural ancestry can take place on equal terms (not that that's even what we're talking about, but I'll allow it) should have clued you in to how desperate your argument really is.
First, that wasn't insignificant - I didn't go searching for it, it was popping up in regular news articles. Second of all, it's part of a wider strain of Afrocentrism that claims every culture on Earth as its own. Third of all, the original assertion was that only one group of people can "claim ancestry." Your only response to it is that it doesn't count.

The question you should be asking is why does it matter that Beethoven was white? What does white Beethoven mean?
In of itself, nothing. But if it meant nothing, then you wouldn't want people 'claiming' him, would you?

Course, the real question to ask is whether it's true or not. And I suspect that we both know the answer.

Where does the idea of aborigines as the "oldest" culture actually come from,
It comes from the idea that Aboriginal culture is the same as it was when humans first arrived on the continent.

I'm not even sure how you can prove that. It's ultimately a mantra that's rarely questioned.

and what does it mean? Why do these ideas even matter?
It ultimately doesn't matter in a practical sense, but it does rely on the assumption that either:

a) Humanity was 'cultureless' prior to 60,000BCE

b) There's no culture anywhere in the world that's remained the same from before then (which is fairly dubious given the Out of Africa theory, and groups like the San)

Because what you will find when you look at these ideas is that they are responses to unconscious assumptions of Eurocentrism.
No, not really. In part, yes. But not wholly. Multiple groups have considered themselves the centre of the world.

'Centrism' is perfectly natural in that you're going to see the world from you're own perspective, and see your group as the centre of it. We've seen the same view from China, Siam, North Korea, and Greece off the top of my head, and that's just in terms of nation state. There's an Amerindian tribe (I forget their name) who believe that all humans in the world are descended from them, or at least, all human life originated from their home. It's a belief that's patently untrue (unless the Out of Africa Theory is incorrect), but it's their own 'centrism,' and they're entitled to it.

I'm pretty sure the white people engaged in Imperialism knew what an African was, and could explain to you the various features and cultural traits that characterized an African as opposed to a European.

Pan-Africanists didn't invent that distinction.
That's a nice conflation between race and Afrocentrism, but it isn't the same thing. The latter is, in part, a reaction to the former.

Again, going to stress that there's nothing inherently bad about 'centrism.' If we're looking at Afrocentrism, then if we equate that with studying history through an African lens and bringing more African history to light, then that's a good thing. But if it, or any other strain of thought, makes a grand claim such as "all civilizations are essentially ours," then, as with any other claim, they're claims not above being tested.

There are lots of cultural representations in D&D beyond orcs.

View attachment 1261

But if you wanna confine this to orcs, then yeah. It applies to orcs as much as anyone.
Probably applies to orcs less, since they're fictional, while the image above shows humans (which aren't), and is inspired by the Middle East.
 
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Terminal Blue

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The most basic features of Afrocentrism are studying history through an African lens.
What is history? Where does the idea of history come from? If you study history, what are you doing and what are the methods you use? Who created those methods?

Now tell me, what does it mean to study history through an African lens?

Second of all, it's part of a wider strain of Afrocentrism that claims every culture on Earth as its own.
What does that even mean?

How does it relate to individuals choosing or identifying with an ancestral culture?

It comes from the idea that Aboriginal culture is the same as it was when humans first arrived on the continent.
In what way?

Also, who came up with that idea?

Also, what is "aboriginal culture?" Where does that idea come from.

'Centrism' is perfectly natural in that you're going to see the world from you're own perspective, and see your group as the centre of it.
So why does Afrocentrism as a concept exist?

If it's natural to see the world from your own perspective and to see your group at the centre of it, wouldn't any African person who studied history be inherently Afrocentric regardless of what they actually thought or believed? Why do we even need a word for something which is as completely natural and self-evident as you're pretending it is.

You seem to be desperately, desperately trying not to see the obvious by reducing this to a neutral issue of individual perspectives. It's not a neutral issue of individual perspectives. There is a global relationship between cultures which goes far beyond the individual.

We've seen the same view from China, Siam, and Greece off the top of my head, and that's just in terms of nation state.
So, when ancient cultures described themselves as being at the the centre of the world. What do you think they meant?

Do you think a Eurocentric perspective describes a person who believes that the world is literally flat and that it has a literal centre on its flat surface?

There's an Amerindian tribe (I forget their name) who believe that all humans in the world are descended from them, or at least, all human life originated from their home.
Again, do you think that a Eurocentric perspective means literal believing that all humanity originated in the continent of Europe?

That's a nice conflation between race and Afrocentrism, but it isn't the same thing.
It is literally not a conflation between race and Afrocentrism.

It is pointing out the very obvious fact that Afrocentrism didn't invent the idea of an African identity.

The latter is, in part, a reaction to the former.
So, Afrocentrism is a reaction to a European construction of an African identity based on a conflation of race and culture. It is a position that only makes sense in a worldview in which European stereotypes of African identity already exist, and relies on that colonial past for its existence.

So.. exactly what I said.

Probably applies to orcs less, since they're fictional, while the image above shows humans (which aren't), and is inspired by the Middle East.
What is the middle east?

East of whom?
 
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Hawki

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You know, I get that asking rhetorical questions is useful, but to make it the basis of an entire post?

Fine...

What is history?
The study and/or recording of past events.

Where does the idea of history come from?
I think most people have an idea of past events.

If you study history, what are you doing and what are the methods you use? Who created those methods?
Well that's going to vary by country and culture, isn't it?

Also, this is starting to feel like post-modernism.

What does that even mean?
I've already explained - the idea that because humans originated in Africa, all cultures are essentially African, or at least owe their existence to Africa.

How does it relate to individuals choosing or identifying with an ancestral culture?
Because if one culture owes its existence to another culture, you can 'claim' the culture.

In what way?
I just told you.

Also, who came up with that idea?
There's no one person, it's a strain of thought that appears to be part-modern, part based in the idea of the Dreaming.

Also, what is "aboriginal culture?"
That's going to vary from person to person, and from group to group, but there's some general similarities:

-The idea of cyclical time

-Belief system that's roughly animistic/totemistic, and land-based

-Strong focus on extended familial group (e.g. "family is the tribe")

-System of tribal governance based on elders

-Holistic worldview

Again, generalizations, but I doubt you'll find many who reject them.

Where does that idea come from.
From observation and claims?

Look, I know what you're trying to do. You're basically claiming something along the lines that all knowledge is Eurocentric, therefore all knowledge is suspect, and ergo, there's no truths. But everything I wrote about are general sentiments from Aboriginal groups themselves.

So why does Afrocentrism as a concept exist?
I've already told you.

If it's natural to see the world from your own perspective and to see your group at the centre of it, wouldn't any African person who studied history be inherently Afrocentric regardless of what they actually thought or believed?
If someone's growing up in Africa, then they're likely to get an education that's roughly Afrocentric.

In an African grows up in China, they're likely to get an education that's roughly Sinocentric.

If an African grows up in the West, they're likely to get an education that's roughly Eurocentric.

Does that answer your question?

Why do we even need a word for something which is as completely natural and self-evident as you're pretending it is.
We need words for lots of obvious things, what's your point?

You seem to be desperately, desperately trying not to see the obvious by reducing this to a neutral issue of individual perspectives.
Basically your entire post up to this point has been non sequitur questions. But sure, I'm the one who's desparate.

It's not a neutral issue of individual perspectives. There is a global relationship between cultures which goes far beyond the individual.
...and?

I agree that no perspective is inherently neutral. I agree that individuals are affected by culture. But the gist of your post indicates that there's no truth at all, in which case, I disagree.

So, when ancient cultures described themselves as being at the the centre of the world. What do you think they meant?
The centre culturally. As in, both the Greeks and Chinese saw those outside their borders as "barbarians."

Do you think a Eurocentric perspective describes a person who believes that the world is literally flat and that it has a literal centre on its flat surface?
No, I think a Eurocentric perspective focuses on European culture and history.

Similar to Afrocentrism, there's a 'natural' form of Eurocentrism (focusing on your own history and culture) and the toxic form that sees non-European/non-white people as "uncivilized."

Again, do you think that a Eurocentric perspective means literal believing that all humanity originated in the continent of Europe?
Well, there is the Out of Europe theory (and an Out of Asia Theory), but no.

And you already know that I know that.

So, the two are related, and it makes sense to regard one as a necessary intellectual feature for the emergence of the other. Cool.
Yes to the first, no to the second. You're suggesting that the only way Afrocentrism could arise is because of colonialism.

What is the middle east?

East of whom?
Again, I know what you're doing here. Fine, I'll answer.

The Middle-east is east of Europe/North Africa. We use that word because we live in the Anglosphere, and lines of longitude use London as the centre. I don't know if "Middle East" is a term used verbatim in, say, Asia, but as far as I'm aware, longitude is a global standard.

Now I'm going to ask you two questions - why does that matter, and second, what would you like to replace it with? Would you like to shift 0 to a different point on the globe? Would you like to replace longitude with a different system? Would you like to stop using the term Middle East? Fine. At least argue for that rather than wasting my time with these nonsense questions. But if so, then you have to answer a third question as to who would go along with it. Do you think the world will re-arrange longitude for you? Is the system of longitude failing?
 

Terminal Blue

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The study and/or recording of past events.
Right, but Africans have always studied and recorded past events from their own perspectives, mostly through oral traditions, music and storytelling. But that's distinct from what we cal history, isn't it. You wouldn't go to a university to learn traditional storytelling.

Studying history from an African perspective means a very specific thing. It means using a historical method developed primarily by Europeans to understand the position of being African. Bear in mind, it is still not terribly uncommon for historians to claim that Africa as a continent had no history prior to European colonization ("the unedifying gyrations of barbarous tribes"). Much of the work of studying history from an African perspective is to counter the Eurocentric idea that Africans have no history, because that idea is important. That idea gets taught in universities. Traditional African methods of conveying or understanding history do not.

Because if one culture owes its existence to another culture, you can 'claim' the culture.
Assuming that's true, which I don't think it is in any meaningful sense, why is it relevant to the thing I said which you disagree with?

There's no one person, it's a strain of thought that appears to be part-modern, part based in the idea of the Dreaming.
Wrong. It was white people.

White people came up with the idea of aborigines as the prototypical human culture because of the perception that they were the most primitive and rudimentary culture on earth. It's profoundly untrue, like most perceptions colonizers developed of colonized people.

That's going to vary from person to person, and from group to group, but there's some general similarities:
Okay, so if it varies between groups, why is there a single aboriginal culture?

Who came up with the idea of a single aboriginal culture? Rhetorical question of course, it's white people.

Look, I know what you're trying to do. You're basically claiming something along the lines that all knowledge is Eurocentric, therefore all knowledge is suspect, and ergo, there's no truths.
That's a leap.

The kind of anthropological knowledge and speculation regarding the ancient, unchanging or primitive nature of various groups of people is Eurocentic, if nothing else because it's reliant on the observations of European observers. But Eurocentric information is not necessarily "untrue", it is typically partial and incomplete, but welcome to history. Everything in history is partial and incomplete.

The reason I want you to acknowledge the Eurocentrism here is because I want you to see the power dynamic of whose perception of the truth and gets to be considered important. Again, whose perception of the truth gets taught in universities. Who, if they want to facilitate understanding of their culture, has to directly engage with people who wrote about that same culture from the outside (often in extremely hostile terms) because again, those are the people who matter, those are the people whose perspective gets taught.

If someone's growing up in Africa, then they're likely to get an education that's roughly Afrocentric.
Again, who developed the methods and knowledge that is taught to African students in education?

We need words for lots of obvious things, what's your point?
Again, if an African perspective is Afrocentric by definition, then the word Afrocentric is redundant. You could just say African, and it would mean the same thing as Afrocentric. Yet for some reason the word Afrocentric exists. Why? What does it describe that is not already encompassed by the term African?

The centre culturally. As in, both the Greeks and Chinese saw those outside their borders as "barbarians."
It's literal.

Like, Buddhists were persecuted in China at one point because Buddhists believed that the site of the Buddha's birth in Nepal was the literal centre of the Earth. The idea was that a being of such magnitude could only be born at the centre of the earth, or they would literally tip it over. This caused problems with the Chinese because the Chinese believed that China was the literal centre of the earth.

Again though, ethnocentrism is different from a chauvanistic sense of cultural superiority (although in the case of the Greeks it was more to do with climate than culture). Eurocentrism does not imply a disdain or disregard for non-european cultures, even if that was the most common historical manifestation. Eurocentrism implies an inability to understand those cultures outside of a relationship to Europe.

No, I think a Eurocentric perspective focuses on European culture and history.
Do you think maybe there is some feature of African history might invite, indeed perhaps even necessitate, a perspective that focuses on European culture and history?

I'm trying to think of what that would be, but I guess my brain is scrambled when it comes to Africa.

Yes to the first, no to the second. You're suggesting that the only way Afrocentrism could arise is because of colonialism.
Yes.

We use that word because we live in the Anglosphere, and lines of longitude use London as the centre.
Nah.

The East, or the Orient, is a cultural construct made up in the early modern period (although it's based on older ideas going back to the classical world) which imagines the border of Europe somewhere around the Bosporus, and as the dividing line between two distinct civilizations or spheres of the world. The middle east is so called to differentiate it from the far east, meaning east asia, and the near east, a term sometimes used to describe the ancient civilizations of Anatolia and the levant.

But that's not really what I meant. Go back and look at that image again. Which part of the middle east do you think it is based on? Which time period approximately?
 
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Hawki

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Right, but Africans have always studied and recorded past events from their own perspectives, mostly through oral traditions, music and storytelling. But that's distinct from what we cal history, isn't it.
In that the term "oral history" is used, yes.

You wouldn't go to a university to learn traditional storytelling.
Depends which university and which subject.

Studying history from an African perspective means a very specific thing. It means using a historical method developed primarily by Europeans to understand the position of being African. Bear in mind, it is still not terribly uncommon for historians to claim that Africa as a continent had no history prior to European colonization ("the unedifying gyrations of barbarous tribes").
A quote from 1963 is "still common"...wow...

Anyway, I can't think of many historians today who claim that. If you're pointing out that studying African history is difficult due to a lack of writing systems, then yes. And you can blame whitey for that if you want. But a lack of writing systems makes it hard to study any historical culture, period. Certainly harder, at least.

Much of the work of studying history from an African perspective is to counter the Eurocentric idea that Africans have no history, because that idea is important. That idea gets taught in universities.
Universities are still teaching that Africa has no history prior to European contact?

I find that a stretch.

Traditional African methods of conveying or understanding history do not.
And? Do you want them to? Should they be? When I go to the history section in the library, should there be a space for audio recordings?

You've danced around the key question as to whether this should be applied or not.

Assuming that's true, which I don't think it is in any meaningful sense, why is it relevant to the thing I said which you disagree with?
Because the original post was that only one group of people can claim ancestry. I've demonstrated again, and again, and again, that other examples exist.

Wrong. It was white people.

White people came up with the idea of aborigines as the prototypical human culture because of the perception that they were the most primitive and rudimentary culture on earth. It's profoundly untrue, like most perceptions colonizers developed of colonized people.
That's a nice conflation of viewpoints, but you're wrong. You've conflated "oldest, and most continuing," with "most primitive, and most rudimentary." The latter comes from colonizers, the former comes from indigenous.

You could hypothetically say that the former is a reaction to the latter, but it's a stretch. Anytime the former claim is made, it's almost always put in the context of the Dreaming or a similar belief system.

Okay, so if it varies between groups, why is there a single aboriginal culture?
Jesus Christ...I just said in the post you're responding to that there's "generalities." You can cherry pick the posts, but the record's there.

Who came up with the idea of a single aboriginal culture? Rhetorical question of course, it's white people.
Let's take that as being true. Are the observations wrong? I can speak of European culture, or Asian culture, and African culture, and make generalities.

Again, everything I listed is stuff that mostly comes from indigenous Australians themselves.

The kind of anthropological knowledge and speculation regarding the ancient, unchanging or primitive nature of various groups of people is Eurocentic, if nothing else because it's reliant on the observations of European observers.
Even if it is, it's the same message that many indigenous groups run with.

But Eurocentric information is not necessarily "untrue", it is typically partial and incomplete, but welcome to history. Everything in history is partial and incomplete.
Nah, really?

Of course history's incomplete. Best we can do with history is work out what's true, and what isn't.

The reason I want you to acknowledge the Eurocentrism here is because I want you to see the power dynamic of whose perception of the truth and gets to be considered important. Again, whose perception of the truth gets taught in universities. Who, if they want to facilitate understanding of their culture, has to directly engage with people who wrote about that same culture from the outside (often in extremely hostile terms) because again, those are the people who matter, those are the people whose perspective gets taught.
You do realize that there's no single "power dynamic," right?

Practical example - in school, I took an elective called Asian Studies. I know you're going to salviate at that and say "look, it's called Asian studies, the power dynamic puts Asia outside the subject of "history," which is just Eurocentric history." But before you do that, not too long ago, listening on the radio I was hearing of a teacher in China who came to Australia, then returned, and now teaches "Australian studies" in China. So if we're playing the game of power dynamics, the power dynamic of Australia means that "Asian Studies" are an elective, while the power dynamic of China means that "Australian Studies" is an elective. The centre of history is going to vary from place to place, and culture to culture. It's why if I go to the "War" section in the library, it's going to focus mainly on WWI/II, while if I look up war movies in the Chinese section, it focuses on (as far as I can tell), the Chinese Civil War, and China's own experience of WWII. Again, as that same interview pointed out, in the West, we focus on our own experiences in WWII, whereas in China, they focus on their own.

Again, you're not stating anything that no-one already knows. If you want to point out that Europe's been a dominant global force for the past few centuries, again, true. No-one denies that. But that'll shift in the future, as it shifted in the past. We're already both 'colonized,' because we're using Roman letters to type this rather than, I dunno, Celtic. Therefore, a) is that a problem?, and b) what would you replace the writing system with?

Again, who developed the methods and knowledge that is taught to African students in education?
I assume whitey.

So again, question - would you like the methods changed? Are the methods failing? Obviously some African countries are in better condition than others, but it's a simple question.

Again, if an African perspective is Afrocentric by definition, then the word Afrocentric is redundant.
Disagree.

You could just say African, and it would mean the same thing as Afrocentric.
No, I said African perspective. I already pointed out that an African in China for instance would be receiving a Sinocentric education for instance.

Yet for some reason the word Afrocentric exists. Why? What does it describe that is not already encompassed by the term African?
Look up the definition.

Afrocentrism, Eurocentrism, Sinocentrism...none of these are prohibitive by ethnicity. I could have been born in China, look the same, and I'd still be studying a Sinocentric curiculum.

Do you think maybe there is some feature of African history might invite, indeed perhaps even necessitate, a perspective that focuses on European culture and history?

I'm trying to think of what that would be, but I guess my brain is scrambled when it comes to Africa.


You know, I know you think you're clever, but yes, I know about the Scramble for Africa. Anyone who doesn't needs a refresher on history. So if you're studying the history of Africa, then chances are you'd include it. This wouldn't even be an Afrocentric viewpoint in of itself.

The East, or the Orient, is a cultural construct made up in the early modern period (although it's based on older ideas going back to the classical world) which imagines the border of Europe somewhere around the Bosporus, and as the dividing line between two distinct civilizations or spheres of the world. The middle east is so called to differentiate it from the far east, meaning east asia, and the near east, a term sometimes used to describe the ancient civilizations of Anatolia and the levant.
Okay, fair point. Now what about the question of longitude?

But that's not really what I meant. Go back and look at that image again. Which part of the middle east do you think it is based on? Which time period approximately?
Based on Arabia, time period, I'd say, would be 10th-12th century.

Again, what's your point? DnD uses a real-world culture for inspiration. Congratulations. You've described something common with fantasy fiction.
 

Satinavian

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Isn't Afrocentrism mostly a thing about Afroamericans or at least part of the Anglosphere while actual Africans don't care about or don't have a similar concept. Because "African" is not really an important element of how they identify themself ?
 

Hawki

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Isn't Afrocentrism mostly a thing about Afroamericans or at least part of the Anglosphere while actual Africans don't care about or don't have a similar concept. Because "African" is not really an important element of how they identify themself ?
From what I've seen/read, Afrocentrism has its scholars on both sides of the Atlantic. But I'm not sure if that's the best way of putting it. If you're an African living in the US, an Afrocentric education would be going against the grain (a Eurocentric education). If you're someone living in Africa, an Afrocentric education would probably be the default - at least in sub-Saharan Africa, maybe sans South Africa.

If you're talking about how people in Africa see themselves, really can't answer there. I mean, in my experience, people from Africa will say "I'm from (country), not "I'm from Africa," but that's more or less what you'd expect from people on any continent. Like, the African Union is a thing, Pan-Africanism is a philosophy, but I can't speak on behalf of a continent.
 

Satinavian

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White people came up with the idea of aborigines as the prototypical human culture because of the perception that they were the most primitive and rudimentary culture on earth. It's profoundly untrue, like most perceptions colonizers developed of colonized people.
No.

Groups with oral traditions all over the world are prone to believe that the way they live now and the traditions they follow now have been unchainged since ancient time.

But that's not really what I meant. Go back and look at that image again. Which part of the middle east do you think it is based on? Which time period approximately?
Old Hollywood movie time ?

There are a couple of arabic elements. But there are also elements that most Arabs would insist are not Arabic at all and totally Persian instead. And are only associated with Arabs in the West. There is not much for putting a timestamp on it though the use of "emirates" for principalities is rather newish.

From what I've seen/read, Afrocentrism has its scholars on both sides of the Atlantic. But I'm not sure if that's the best way of putting it. If you're an African living in the US, an Afrocentric education would be going against the grain (a Eurocentric education). If you're someone living in Africa, an Afrocentric education would probably be the default - at least in sub-Saharan Africa, maybe sans South Africa.

If you're talking about how people in Africa see themselves, really can't answer there. I mean, in my experience, people from Africa will say "I'm from (country), not "I'm from Africa," but that's more or less what you'd expect from people on any continent. Like, the African Union is a thing, Pan-Africanism is a philosophy, but I can't speak on behalf of a continent.
I know that a couple of ex-colonies still use colonial era education material and teach extremely eurocentric history, while some others try to get away from that and dig out and teach more local precolonial history. But even the latter tend to use established modern history methods not oral traditions. Also they tend to care about the local tribes not about anything pan-African. Actually there are studies showing that many sub-Saharan nations have more interaction with European nations than with their neighboring nations which is one of the reasons why the African Union doesn't get much done. It's people don't feel African first or second or even third.

And the Maghreb nations mostly care about pan-Arabism far more than about pan-Africanism. And while history education varies as well a lot, relations to Arabia and Europe tend to favor more prominently than relations to the central and southern part of the continent.
 
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Terminal Blue

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Depends which university and which subject.
Not really.

A quote from 1963 is "still common"...wow...
Yes.

Anyway, I can't think of many historians today who claim that.
They're certainly less public about it.

Universities are still teaching that Africa has no history prior to European contact?
Universities, for the most part, aren't teaching African history at all, because the implicit assumption is still that there's nothing to teach.

And? Do you want them to?
What I want doesn't really matter. We're not talking about what I want, we're talking about what it means to study history from an African perspective.

If for some reason you want my personal opinion, then I've made my views on epistemicide clear elsewhere, but to summarize: I'm less enamoured with the idea of token gestures of respect towards dead precolonial knowledge practices than I am with a global redistribution of the means of knowledge production

It seems incredibly futile to me to put audio recordings in libraries if only rich people in predominantly white countries can listen to them.

Because the original post was that only one group of people can claim ancestry. I've demonstrated again, and again, and again, that other examples exist.
The example you've given is not of people claiming ancestry. If anything, it is literally the opposite. Even if we take your example entirely at face value, it isn't people claiming individual ancestry, it is people claiming collective descent.

Furthermore, you can't even bring these people up in a way that suggests they have any kind of cultural credibility. In that sense, you've entirely missed my point. When I made a generalization that only white people get to claim a personal ancestry by choice, I don't mean that it's literally impossible for non-white people, just as it's not literally impossible for me to claim that I'm descended from Martians. What I'm actually talking about is credibility. Do I get to claim this ancestry and be taken seriously? Bringing up counter examples that you yourself don't take seriously isn't really the best way of disputing my point.

That's a nice conflation of viewpoints, but you're wrong. You've conflated "oldest, and most continuing," with "most primitive, and most rudimentary." The latter comes from colonizers, the former comes from indigenous.
"Oldest" is a comparative judgement. If this is an authentic aboriginal discourse which predates colonization, who is the point of comparison? Who are the younger people by comparison to which aborigines are old? Who are the changing people by reference to whom aborigines are continuing?

I can speak of European culture, or Asian culture, and African culture, and make generalities.
Sure, but you can also pick any group of cultures from completely different parts of the world and find generalities. Generalities do not imply the inherent or natural composition of a group.

You do realize that there's no single "power dynamic," right?
Sure, but does that make the generalization untrue?

I assume whitey.

So again, question - would you like the methods changed? Are the methods failing? Obviously some African countries are in better condition than others, but it's a simple question.
Again, it's not relevant what I want.

All I'm asking, in this case is for you to acknowledge a basic truth, without rushing to the desperate defence of poor "whitey" from the tarnishing of his pure historical legacy. I want you to acknowledge that prevailing systems of knowledge (the "methods" as you put it) are predicated on the colonial encounter. More specfically I want you to acknowledge that studying history from an African perspective means studying history from an African perspective using non-African methods .

Do the methods work? Sure, whatever, let's assume they do, let's assume Western knowledge systems are literally perfect. It doesn't change the fact that there is a global power dynamic expressed through the fact that Africans must learn those knowledge systems, and must receiving a Western education, in order to be taken seriously, not just in technical and mechanical fields but in history and cultural studies. It doesn't change the fact that Western knowledge is the global standard of knowledge. There is an inherent Eurocentrism in that, even if that Eurocentrism isn't a problem.

Look up the definition.
It's very clear that you don't care about the definition.

So if you're studying the history of Africa, then chances are you'd include it. This wouldn't even be an Afrocentric viewpoint in of itself.
Literally the opposite of my point.

My point was that a truly Afrocentric perception of history is extremely difficult, if not impossible, because you have to deal with the massive glaring fact that Africa was colonized. Prevailing systems of African knowledge were destroyed during colonization. Today, Afrocentric scholars themselves have to use the methods invented by the same people whose descendants continue to plunder their continent for its resources and labour. To believe that Africa is the figurative centre of the world is inherently hard. To believe that Europe is the figurative centre of the world is the norm.

Based on Arabia, time period, I'd say, would be 10th-12th century.
Look at the dancer.

Do you think dancers wore those outfits in the 10th-12th century?

That outfit literally comes from 19th century European orientalist art. It's loosely based on the outfits of Egyptian folk dancers of the same time, but at the time Egyptian dancers would not have exposed their breasts or midriff.

That image is very clearly not based on the middle east. It's based on the conventions of European art and writing about the middle east. Almost every element of that image is taken pretty directly from orientalist paintings. It's a specifically European fantasy about the middle east.
 
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Thaluikhain

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Universities, for the most part, aren't teaching African history at all, because the implicit assumption is still that there's nothing to teach.
Erm, without meaning to quibble, when you say "African", does that include Egypt? And parts of Africa which was within or nearby the borders of the Roman Empire, which could be included in Roman history, I guess (similarly with Persian).

"Oldest" is a comparative judgement. If this is an authentic aboriginal discourse which predates colonization, who is the point of comparison? Who are the younger people by comparison to which aborigines are old? Who are the changing people by reference to whom aborigines are continuing?
I hardly claim to be an expert, but from my understanding it's not an idea that predates colonisation, it's a modern response to it. "We shouldn't discriminate against Aboriginal Australians, they are the oldest living culture". Which is well-meaning, and not wrong, but is missing the point a little.
 

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If for some reason you want my personal opinion, then I've made my views on epistemicide clear elsewhere, but to summarize: I'm less enamoured with the idea of token gestures of respect towards dead precolonial knowledge practices than I am with a global redistribution of the means of knowledge production
Historians of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your tenures...

But even that aside, you do realize there's hubs of knowledge on every continent sans Antarctica, right?

It seems incredibly futile to me to put audio recordings in libraries if only rich people in predominantly white countries can listen to them.
*Facepalm*

You know, that sentence already operates under the assumption that only "white countries" have libraries (which is false), but also that "rich people" can access them, which is also false. Statistically, here at least, as income goes down, the likelihood of you using a library goes up.

The example you've given is not of people claiming ancestry. If anything, it is literally the opposite. Even if we take your example entirely at face value, it isn't people claiming individual ancestry, it is people claiming collective descent.
Which example specifically? I've given countless examples, and it's always met with "nuh-uh."

When I made a generalization that only white people get to claim a personal ancestry by choice, I don't mean that it's literally impossible for non-white people, just as it's not literally impossible for me to claim that I'm descended from Martians. What I'm actually talking about is credibility. Do I get to claim this ancestry and be taken seriously? Bringing up counter examples that you yourself don't take seriously isn't really the best way of disputing my point.
...did you seriously bring up Martians as an example?

FFS, that isn't equivalent. Martians don't exist, and if they do exist, I can say with 100% certainty that no-one on Earth is descended from them. So no, you can't claim Martian ancestry and be taken seriously. However, if you claim ancestry from any human culture on Earth, I'd have no problem believing you. I don't know what you look like, and even if I did, you can easily have elements of ancestry that isn't expressed through your phenotype.

"Oldest" is a comparative judgement. If this is an authentic aboriginal discourse which predates colonization, who is the point of comparison? Who are the younger people by comparison to which aborigines are old? Who are the changing people by reference to whom aborigines are continuing?
The younger people are all other cultures. Yes, the point of comparison is usually European, but that's missing the forest for the trees. The same comparison has been used, off the top of my head, against the Babylonians, the Egyptians, and the Chinese. You're trying to pidgeon-hole the assertion into simply a point of cultural relativism. To do so is to ignore human migratory history and the genetic record.

Sure, but you can also pick any group of cultures from completely different parts of the world and find generalities. Generalities do not imply the inherent or natural composition of a group.
That's a nice technicality, but someone living in, say, Portugal, is going to have more cultural connection to, say, Germany, than India. Similarly, someone living in India will have more cultural connection to China than either of those countries. Look at any continent, and you'll generally see a sphere of cultural influence.

Sure, but does that make the generalization untrue?
Depends how far you're extending the generalization. If you're confining the generalization to the Anglosphere/West, then yes. If you're applying it globally, then not so much.

I want you to acknowledge that prevailing systems of knowledge (the "methods" as you put it) are predicated on the colonial encounter. More specfically I want you to acknowledge that studying history from an African perspective means studying history from an African perspective using non-African methods.
I'll put it this way:

-There's no single "colonial encounter" - colonial encounters have been going on for the last 12,000 years. History is littered with the ruins of civilizations over the millennia, many of which were destroyed by incoming groups.

-It's a stretch to say "all knowledge systems" are based on the encounter you're describing, because methods of scholarship, scientific inquiry, and everything else arose independently. Museums, libraries, and universities aren't Western inventions.

-Even if you're describing stuff like the scientific method as being dominant in the world today, that's more or less true, but to put that on "the colonial encounter" is a gross simplification of history. Scientific inquiry arose in places like the Middle East (until scientific inquiry was more or less quashed), and there's similar scholarship in China, before (again, as a simplification), it became less about experimentation and more about rote learning (see the Confucian exams). This is even common in the world today - for instance, the Dewey system is the most common system of cataloguing in libraries, it's not the only one. I'm well aware of the faults in the Dewey system, the question is, a) is there a better system, and b) is it worth the effort of replacing? Your worldview seems to operate under the idea that the 'knowledge systems' you describe are entirely involuntary.

-If we're talking about studying African history through non-African methods, then sure, okay. But again, you're insinuating that this is a unique event - there's no shortage of African empires that expanded, and historically, cultural identities who are subsuumed in empires rarely re-emerge (to take a leaf from Noel Harrari, the Etruscans are a key example). And if people want to study African history before the Scramble for Africa, more power to them, but nowhere in history is it ever mandated that we adopt the same beliefs and practices of the culture being studied.

Do the methods work? Sure, whatever, let's assume they do, let's assume Western knowledge systems are literally perfect. It doesn't change the fact that there is a global power dynamic expressed through the fact that Africans must learn those knowledge systems, and must receiving a Western education, in order to be taken seriously, not just in technical and mechanical fields but in history and cultural studies. It doesn't change the fact that Western knowledge is the global standard of knowledge. There is an inherent Eurocentrism in that, even if that Eurocentrism isn't a problem.
A few points:

-Something doesn't have to be perfect, the question is, does it work better? For instance, when it comes to oral vs. written history, written history has done a better job of enduring, because it's pretty much a given in archeology that a culture with written history is easier to study than oral history. Same reason why I'm perfectly happy to use Roman letters and Hindu-Arabic numbers when writing. Any mathematician will tell you that Roman numerals are a nightmare because of the lack of a zero.

-It's extremely iffy to group technical and mechanical fields and history/culture in the same bucket in this context. History and culture are always open to interpretation, hard science operates on laws and theories. It reminds me of the "decolonize light" article I saw ages back. The question that was never asked, let alone answered, was whether light operates differently based on who's observing it. Either we know the speed of light, and accept that light is the universal contant rather than time, or it isn't. I'm open for those conclusions to be challenged, and you can present your methods, but in the meantime, I'd rather the body of scientific knowledge to accumulate.

-We've already had a taste of "alternate ways of knowing" via the intelligent design debate. Part of the problem with intelligent design is that it's in sharp contrast to the scientific method.

-You demand that you want "a global redistribution of knowledge production." Okay. What does that mean practically? Would the world improve, or not? Would knowledge be accumulated, or fragmented. The example that comes to mind is the periodic table, which is used universally, even the symbols, regardless of the language of the country it's used in. If we have multiple types of periodic tables, if we look at atoms in different ways, does this make scientific inquiry easier or not? I'd venture that the answer is "not," because it would make cross-communication very difficult. If you're referring to the issue of brain drain, then yes, it is an issue, but as far as I can tell, that isn't what you're talking about. You want "different ways of thinking" simply for the sake of it. And given the issues of the 21st century, we need less fragmentation, not more of it.
 

Hawki

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It's very clear that you don't care about the definition.
Afrocentrism: A scholarly movement that seeks to conduct research and education on global history subjects, from the perspective of historical African peoples and polities.

As I've stated, you don't need to be African, or live in Africa, to have an Afrocentric view on the world. There's nothing in the definition however, that necessitates a particular means of studying history.

Literally the opposite of my point.

My point was that a truly Afrocentric perception of history is extremely difficult, if not impossible, because you have to deal with the massive glaring fact that Africa was colonized. Prevailing systems of African knowledge were destroyed during colonization. Today, Afrocentric scholars themselves have to use the methods invented by the same people who continue to plunder their continent for its resources and labour. To believe that Africa is the figurative centre of the world is inherently hard. To believe that Europe is the figurative centre of the world is the norm.
Again, true, but again, process of the last 12,000 years.

But even focusing just on Africa, again, is this bad? I'm not talking about the loss of pre-existing knowledge systems, I'm asking whether the methods of studying them are. Do the methods work or not? Are you happy using Roman letters, or would you prefer to use different ones? If you're studying your Welsh ancestors, are you obliged to undertake their "ways of knowing?"

Also, believing Europe is the figurative centre of the world? Highly debatable. As of the mid-20th century, I don't know how anyone could really make that argument. Certainly not in a geo-political sense. And I don't see how you could argue that in a cultural sense either. Maybe if you had a shoddy history education and/or grew up in Europe, maybe, but apart from that? Not really.

I hardly claim to be an expert, but from my understanding it's not an idea that predates colonisation, it's a modern response to it. "We shouldn't discriminate against Aboriginal Australians, they are the oldest living culture". Which is well-meaning, and not wrong, but is missing the point a little.
Not really.

The idea of indigenous Australians being the oldest culture in the world isn't a claim that could be reasonably made without science backing it to some extent (again, human migration patterns and DNA analysis). But it's a cultural idea that more or less exists independently of any other consideration, and in points of contrast to non-European civilizations. As I've pointed out, the contention has been used in opposition to various civilizations.

Also, this is a good opportunity to contrast "ways of knowing" through the following:

-Dreamtime: We know we're here forever because of our stories and customs.

-Science: We know that humans arrived on the continent about 60,000 years ago through radio-carbon dating. We also know that the DNA of indigenous Australians lacks the genetic markers of Eurasians, so we're looking at what's likely a different human migratory pattern. This would make sense, as modern humans appeared in Eurasia about 40-50,000 years ago.

You could argue that I'm selling the Dreamtime argument short. Maybe. But being intellectually honest, which of the following pieces of evidence comes off as more convincing? I don't know. I do know that awhile back, there was a university that strongly encouraged students to not use the 60,000 year figure and instead use the phrase "since time immemorial," because putting a hard figure on the beginning of human habitation in Australia was considered offensive.

You may also be saying at this point that science and TEK have come to the same conclusion, so what's the problem? My answer to that is that there isn't a problem in this particular case, but there's no shortage of stories, myths, and legends that simply aren't true, and if they are true, then our scientific understanding needs a complete overhaul. For instance, take evolution. Most of us on this forum probably accept evolution as being true. However, if were were in the Middle-east, statistically speaking, most of us wouldn't be. Turkey is probably the most secular Islamic country there is, and if you believe in evolution there, you're a minority. So. Should we accept this "way of knowing?" Well, people are free to believe what they want, but the problem with ID is that it's unfalsifiable, and is basically a theory in search of evidence. Now expand this to the 4,000-plus belief systems in the world right now. Are all opinions and beliefs equal? Is that Amerindian tribe I mentioned earlier correct in saying that the human race originated from their mountain home? I'd venture that the answer is no, because it flies in the face of scientific evidence, but then, maybe they just have a different "way of knowing."

I guess the TL, DR version of this is that if the demand to "redistribute knowledge" is met, and if science is "rebuilt from the ground up" as a certain student demanded in a now infamous video, I can see three possible outcomes. Either:

a) We spend our time confirming what we already know

b) A number of scientific theories are discredited and we go back to the drawing board

c) The knowledge base of humanity is fragmented as it becomes harder to cross-communicate since we're using different standards (take the longitude example - if every country uses their own location as "0," then navigation is going to become a nightmare).

Of those options, b is the most appealing, but science already allows its conclusions to be challenged, and scientific understanding has accumulated over time, even despite various setbacks (see the destruction of the Library or Alexandria, or the Mongols' sacking of Baghdad). So I'm left to ask what the point is? That's not to say that TEK is without value, but its theories and conclusions shouldn't be free of falsification. For instance, we know that areas under indigenous stewardship do better than state-managed areas. We know this not because of a "way of knowing," but through statistical analysis. On the other hand, to cite another example from South America, there's a tribe who believe that the children contain the DNA of multiple men - as in, multiple men have sex with the same woman, and therefore, the child contains all of their 'seed.' Should we accept this "way of knowing" as true? Or should we test it against what we know about DNA, and the understanding that all humans contain the DNA of only the mother and the father? I dunno. I do know that it became a controversy in the respective biology lessons, as some didn't want their answers marked wrong because of their belief system.