Tag Archives: MultiCulturalism

Steampunk India Interview in DESIblitz Magazine

The Steampunk Universe anthology, edited by Sarah Hans, is gaining momentum; more news to follow very soon!

Meanwhile, I spoke to Fatima Farah of Indian magazine DESIblitz about my background and what inspires me when writing inclusive Victoriana fiction: Suna Dasi Talks Short Stories and Steampunk India 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Articles, Articles by Others, Books, Culture, Diaspora, Diversity, Hidden Exclusion, History, India, MultiCulturalism in Steampunk, MultiCuturalism, Music, Steampunk, Uncategorized, Victorian, Victorian PoC, Victoriana, Women, Writing

Truancy Issue 2 Release 

It was a true pleasure to be part of the Roundtable: Intersections between South Asian Folklore, Myth and Lived Experience feature in Truancy Issue 2.
  
The questions and answers begetting more questions and answers provided challenging, wonderful food for thought. It was fascinating, moving and inspiring to read my fellow participants’ replies. Some of the resultant ponderings and conclusions didn’t make it into the (already blissfully long) article. These were the more personal ideas regarding diaspora, identity and place, coupled with the perceived legacy of folklore, myth and legends from various cultures that, for me, ended in the following.

Though I am nostalgic for something unexperienced when I yearn for being part of Indian culture in a way that was denied to me when I came into the world, I am simultaneously very aware that this is a type of… romantic affectation. 

There is no conflict of identity. I am very happily myself. Or rather; it has been my privilege to have had the space to become so, by trial and error, through joys and woes. That is solely the result of growing up with the cultural freedoms I enjoyed. Had I been born and raised within my own culture, bound by what I know to be the stifling constraints of my heritage, I would most certainly not have been able to become a touring singer, nor an all out, woman-loving equality activist, embodying nothing resembling religion, though you could argue I have an abiding, possibly worshipful wonder for science and nature. As a friend affectionately said once: You are a Sagan pagan. I’ll take that.

I adore being a fusion of cultures, a true citizen of the world – much overused as the term is. While I may not speak much Hindi at all, I speak three languages comfortably and a further two adequately. This roundtable, while actually being about folklore and inherited myths, has been excellent for crystallising some thoughts that have been swimming in the bottom of my mind like little blind fishes. I have long wondered whether all this superimposed angst of cultural belonging, or the judgment from people both Western and of countries you are ‘really from’ (recognise that question anyone? Folk always seem dissatisfied when I say The Netherlands!) may partly be a strange type of jealousy. Why not have it all? Why not have cake and eat it? 

Why not?

Nothing has been taken from me in that respect, rather a melding of cultures that has given my life that many more dimensions. Including the rich veins of mythology, fairy tales and folklore from more worlds than just one. I hope the roundtable gives insight and enjoyment of the different minds and backgrounds coming at those questions.

Plus, this issue contains wonderful fiction and artwork. Enjoy!   

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Articles, Articles by Others, Culture, Diaspora, Diversity, India, MultiCuturalism, Writing

Happy 150th Birthday, Anandibai Joshi! 

Happy 150th Birthday, Anandibai Joshi! Born on this day in Kalyan near Mumbai, she was the first Indian woman to get a Western medicine degree in 1886.

  


She was born in 1865 in an extremely orthodox Brahmin family in Maharashtra. As a nine year old girl she was married off to a widower who was almost thrice her age. However, he appears to have been a more forward thinking fellow than his peers at this time (and aside from the deeply problematic custom of child bridehood): Gopalrao Joshi was a postal clerk. When his wife at age fourteen expressed she wanted to study medicine he supported her. It seems her drive to do so came after their first child died, ten days after birth, because proper medical resources were not available.

This was a time when women’s education wasn’t thought of or if it was, sneered at. Gopalrao seems to have been an exception to the rule: he married Anandi specifically on the condition that his wife be educated, whether her family had traditional misgivings or not.

She sadly died at the very young age of twenty-one, yet she opened the gates for many young women in India who wanted to move beyond solely dedicating their lives to a domestic status.

  

Leave a comment

Filed under Diversity, History, India, MultiCulturalism in Steampunk, MultiCuturalism, Victorian PoC, Victoriana, Woman, Women's History

For Steampunk Hands 2015: The Raj Revised: Steampunking History

Pyjamas. Shampoo. Candy. Doolally. Loot. Bungalow. Cushy. Junk.
These words are all part of daily English speech. (Doolally being a personal favourite.)
They wouldn’t have been part of the English language had they not been assimilated during the British presence in India during the 1900s.

IMG_1095
It’s a perfect way to detect how interwoven the two cultures are. The impact of the Raj is a ripple in the global historical pond that hasn’t stilled to this day.
India, the Jewel in the British Crown, the spice in the English economy, the Empire its Empress never set foot in. This is where Steampunk India comes in.
Steampunk is partly based on an avid love of history. Many Steampunks pride themselves on incorporating historically accurate aspects of the Victorian Era in their costuming, events or building projects.The genre has come quite a way from being mostly Western-centric, with costumes that only reflect the fashions of London society during a certain period, with personas and narratives that are predominantly culturally relevant to Caucasian participants.

More than most creative genres, Steampunk is placed to be truly multicultural, truly inclusive.
I have a fascination for the Victorian Era, a love for maritime history, and direct hereditary ties to the exploits of the British East India Trading Company. As a result I have an avid wish to see more India in Steampunk.
In particular more Indian India, as it were.
In general I want more of Africa, of China, Malaysia, Borneo, Argentina and other non-Western countries, specifically expressions of and representations by the people of each nation. Women, people of all colours, LGBT folk; it is deeply important to further a more egalitarian expression of race and gender, both within the context of events and performance and by authors of diverse heritage and persuasions.

The photo collage below forms an example of where Steampunk inspiration could be found. All these images are from the late 1800s – early 1900s. Clockwise starting top Right: An Indonesian Sarong Weaver. A Malaysian woman in Nonya attire. A young Berber from Tunisia. Araucanian Indians and gauchos, Chile. A young girl, Borneo, possibly from the Kayan tribe.

IMG_1101-0

Collaborating with others for multiculturalism is vital.
One such collaboration took place last year. I was involved in two events for The Clockwork Watch Transmedia Project created by Yomi Ayeni. Through comics, interactive events and a website featuring a fictional Gazette of the world, Yomi has created a Steampunk milieu where Indian culture plays a more prominent role.*

IMG_1105
(From Clockwork Watch: The Arrival by Yomi Ayeni & Corey Brotherson. Artwork: Jennie Gyllblad.)

As part of the year-long celebration of the 300th anniversary of Longitude in 2014, the Royal Museums in Greenwich organised two interactive events, featuring some of the characters from the Clockwork Watch comics: I played the role of Tinku Ranbir, wife of eminent Indian scientist Chan.
The second event, titled ‘Clocking Off Late’, featured a piece called ‘The Tinku Diaries‘. Tinku’s character occupied the floor of the Maritime Museum that houses the permanent exhibition ‘Traders: The East India Company and Asia’. Visitors to the gallery were introduced to Tinku and instantly submerged into the Clockwork Watch story which merged with the actual history of our world. Artist and musician Ziazan played a mischievous spirit, flitting in and out of the narrative, introducing the public to elements of the created world.
A selection of diary entries scattered around the displays for visitors to find were protectively snatched from them by Tinku’s companion,Thomas, (played by Philip Whiteman) coiling tight the spring of mystery and intrigue that winds the Clockwork Watch.

IMG_1107
(Left: Ziazan carrying a special edition of the Clockwork Watch book. Right to Bottom: Tinku at her desk. A diary extract featured in the fictional London Gazette on the Clockwork Watch Site. Tinku speaks to a museum visitor whilst Thomas looks on, ready to usher the lady away should things get too personal.)

Yomi’s request to create the diaries as an original composition of my own allowed free reign to show an intimate glimpse of Tinku’s mind and experiences. Tinku’s predicament became very immediate to me during this creative process; an Indian woman in a Western environment, trying to carve out a meaningful place for herself while preserving her own values and integrity.
Her diary was also the perfect vehicle to include titbits from the East India Company history and acquaint visitors with a deeper look under the surface. I further incorporated some of the artifacts and paintings that are permanent features of the exhibit, in order to mix fiction with history, as is the Steampunk wont.
In her diary, Tinku mentions a Wadia Sahib. She is referring to Jamsetjee Bomanjee Wadia, (c 1754-1821), Master Shipbuilder at the Bombay Docks. His portrait by J. Dorman is part of the Trader’s Gallery collection:

IMG_1106

The diary ‘extract’ is an original piece of fiction, written especially for Yomi Ayeni. There is a possibility it will eventually be included in the greater Clockwork Watch narrative. It was a true pleasure to write. Both the diary and the event it was part of form a great example of Steampunk used as a Classroom.
As part of Steampunk Hands 2015, The Tinku Diaries will be exclusively published to the Steampunk India website at the end of February. Date to be announced.

* http://www.clockworkwatch.com

3 Comments

Filed under Acting, Comics, Diversity, Events, MultiCulturalism in Steampunk, Steampunk Hands, Steampunk Hands Around The World, Writing

Comic Crossover from Broadsword creators featuring Steampunk India!

It has been some time in the making but it is here at last: Comic artists Jim Balent and Holly Golightly’s comic Crossover collaboration, featuring a merge of the well known characters of Tarot: Witch of The Black Rose and School Bites comics…

2015/01/img_0831.jpg

To generate an environment in which all characters meet, they used a trope very much at home in Steampunk: time travel.

And here is where Steampunk India gets a feature: the time machine is piloted by Indian mechanic Soona Day (a version of Steampunk India’s Suna Dasi).

2015/01/img_0697.jpg (Concept image still featuring the mouse crosshairs…)

In in spite of her engineering skills, the machine malfunctions and its passengers find themselves in a hairy – or perhaps one should say scaly? – situation in another dimension.

Suna Dasi: “I am thrilled with the Crossover comic and the manner in which Jim Balent and Holly GoLightly have made room for yet another diverse, strong female character of colour in amongst the regular faces! I very much look forward to see where the narrative takes the characters next.
The artists have been extremely generous with their characterisation and I am tickled to the highest degree that Steampunk India has become a (minor) part of the Broadsword canon.”

2015/01/img_0821.jpg

The first section of the Crossover comic is available on

http://www.bscdigital.com

The comic is part of the Tarot: Witch of The Black Rose Reading Library as Tarot#90.

Related links:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Balent
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holly_Golightly_(comics)
https://www.facebook.com/broadswordcomics
http://www.steampunkindia.com
http://www.facebook.com/SteampunkIndia

1 Comment

Filed under Diversity, Media, MultiCulturalism in Steampunk, Steampunk, Uncategorized, Writing

Bollywood Style Fiction Giveaway With Susan Kaye Quinn and Sonali Devi

Two authors writing diverse fiction have teamed together for an excellent Giveaway. Below they explain in their own words the whys and wherefores of their writing.

“Sonali Dev and Susan Kaye Quinn met in a most unusual place: Library Journal’s Top 10 E-Romance List for 2014. Sonali’s A Bollywood Affair and Susan’s Third Daughter both made the list with their Bollywood-themed romances – something that was so cool, it cried out to be celebrated!

2015/01/img_0823.jpgA BOLLYWOOD AFFAIR by Sonali Dev

Synopsis:
Mili Rathod hasn’t seen her husband in twenty years—not since she was promised to him at the age of four. Yet marriage has allowed Mili a freedom rarely given to girls in her village. Her grandmother has even allowed her to leave India and study in America for eight months, all to make her the perfect modern wife. Which is exactly what Mili longs to be—if her husband would just come and claim her.

Bollywood’s favorite director, Samir Rathod, has come to Michigan to secure a divorce for his older brother. Persuading a naïve village girl to sign the papers should be easy for someone with Samir’s tabloid-famous charm. But Mili is neither a fool nor a gold-digger. Open-hearted yet complex, she’s trying to reconcile her independence with cherished traditions. And before he can stop himself, Samir is immersed in Mili’s life—cooking her dal and rotis, escorting her to her roommate’s elaborate Indian wedding, and wondering where his loyalties and happiness lie.

THIRD DAUGHTER (The Dharian Affairs #1) by Susan Kaye Quinn

2015/01/img_0824.jpg

The Third Daughter of the Queen wants to her birthday to arrive so she’ll be free to marry for love, but rumors of a new flying weapon may force her to accept a barbarian prince’s proposal for a peace-brokering marriage. Desperate to marry the charming courtesan she loves, Aniri agrees to the prince’s proposal as a subterfuge in order to spy on him, find the weapon, and hopefully avoid both war and an arranged marriage to a man she does not love.

Third Daughter is the first book in the Dharian Affairs Trilogy (Third Daughter, Second Daughter, First Daughter). This steampunk-goes-to-Bollywood (Bollypunk!) romance takes place in an east-indian-flavored alternate world filled with skyships, saber duels, and lots of royal intrigue. And, of course, kissing.

~*~

ROMANCE AND INTRIGUE: BOLLYWOOD STYLE

This short Q&A with Sonali and Susan talks about marrying for love and writing romance!

Q: Marrying for love is a modern, and in some ways Western, concept, but arranged marriages have a long and complicated history. How does your novel tackle the subject of arranged marriage?

Sue: Third Daughter is set in a fantasy world, but it’s a blend of cultures in the real one, including being an analog to India (both current day and some of the past). In the Dharian Affairs world, royal marriages have a history of being arranged for political purposes, but the general population of the countries marry for love. This leaves the titular Daughters with varying conflicts between marrying for duty and marrying for love – some embracing their arranged marriages, some fighting against it. The marriage dynamics of the three daughters in the trilogy (Third Daughter, Second Daughter, First Daughter) drive much of the story – along with political intrigue and skyships, of course!

2015/01/img_0826.jpg

Sonali: In India where I grew up arranged marriages are still very much a part of the fabric of the culture. Having said that, one of the most interesting and unique things about Indian society is how diverse it is within itself. While you still have communities and families who will give the marrying person absolutely no say in whom they marry there are those who don’t believe their parents and families have any say when it comes to whom they choose to marry or live with, and then there is the rest of the sizable population who falls somewhere between those two belief systems. In A Bollywood Affair, Mili is from a tiny village from a very orthodox family and it is perfectly natural that her family would arrange her marriage. She would expect that. It wouldn’t even strike a girl from her background that she could choose for herself. The age at which she was married isn’t usual, though, but there is a reason why her grandmother gets her married that young. As for her being in love with her husband, again, the conditioning to be devoted to your husband is so ingrained in the culture that it would be strange if someone like Mili didn’t love someone she believed was her husband.

Q: Whether set in a fantasy world or the modern one, romance is romance! There are many romance tropes – star-crossed lovers, lovers thrown together by circumstance, enemies turned lovers – what kind(s) of romance tropes does your novel contain?

Sue: My books are really a blend of romance and adventure, although the first book is a classic “lovers thrown together by circumstance” as Aniri (the Third Daughter) goes undercover in accepting a marriage proposal from the barbarian prince in the north in order to spy on him and determine if his country truly has the rumored flying machine that would upend the political dynamics in both their countries.

(Example of a Steampunk flying machine, artwork by Chanmeleon)

2015/01/img_0827.jpg

Sonali: Although I didn’t set out to write it that way, several readers have pointed out that A Bollywood Affair is a Worldly Rake and an Ingenue Virgin trope. And now that I think about it, there’s truth to that.

Q: Are you planning on writing more romances in this story-world? If so, tell us about it!

Sue: The Dharian Affairs trilogy is complete, but I’ve enjoyed writing in this east-Indian steampunk fantasy romance world so much, I’ve decided to do a follow-on trilogy from the point of view of a new character—a female tinker who has a grand invention that may change the world, but also is caught between the spy she might love and the spy she can’t resist. Those books likely won’t be written for a year or two, but I will cycle back to writing in this world in the future!

Sonali: The Bollywood Bride comes out next year and it’s the story of a Bollywood star who comes home to Chicago after ten years to escape a scandal in Mumbai and comes face to face with the man she betrayed for stardom. And then there are two more stories I’m working on in the same series. Which isn’t a series in terms of continuity or overlapping characters but because the stories are set in the same world and either the hero or the heroine work in Bollywood.”

WIN BOLLYWOOD PRIZES

2015/01/img_0825.jpg

Paperback of Third Daughter (The Dharian Affairs #1)
The Dharian Affairs Trilogy in Ebook
2 Paperback copies of A Bollywood Affair
Handwoven Pashmina shawl from India
Sticker Henna Tattoos
Indian bangles (bracelets)
(all physical prizes are US ONLY; ebook is INTERNATIONAL)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Leave a comment

Filed under Diversity, Events, Media, MultiCulturalism in Steampunk, Steampunk, Writing

The Clockwork Watch London Gazette Latest

A background article for the Clocking Off Late Nighttime Event at The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich on the 13th of November.

IMG_0446-0.JPG

Tickets at http://www.rmg.co.uk/whats-on/events/clocking-off-late

Leave a comment

Filed under Acting, Articles by Others, Diversity, Events, MultiCulturalism in Steampunk, Steampunk

Diversity in Steampunk – Exclusion from Inclusion

Update: In documenting the journey of merging East and West more equally within Steampunk, the below post will remain visible. It needs to be clarified however that as far as the interviewees are concerned, the situation has been resolved to satisfaction and all Steampunk ties are intact.

The beauty of Steampunk, among other things, is that everyone is dedicated to civilised communication; the frankness and support of those involved have been a perfect example of this.

Original Post (04/09/2014)

Steampunk India’s letter to the Independent on Sunday regarding the New Review Steampunk feature from the 31st of August:

The great irony. To be asked by the Independent on Sunday for an interview on MultiCulturalism in Steampunk at the Steampunk Summer Fete Event in Greenwich.
And a white lady pretty much pushed in and said to the journalist ‘do you want to interview us both together?’ (I must say that she was also set to be interviewed on her own subject within Steampunk).

To see the article finally come out, and I am not in it all (not whining here, editorial decisions have to be made), and to see a huge picture of the white lady, with *her* quote about multiculturalism and inclusion in Steampunk, but not my perspective, is a massive dose of ‘Same Old, Same Old.’

I am aware this sounds like sour grapes, but that is really not what I’m saying.

It’s not just the fashion that has been transported through time; to hear a white person make my point must feel how a black performer felt watching The Black and White Minstrels.

I’m sure its all a massive coincidence. Culture is built from an avalanche of coincidences.

Best Regards,
Suna Dasi
Steampunk India

P.S. The event organiser, Yomi Ayeni, was also wholly absent from the article: strange in itself. Total coincidence he was the only black person.

Below: Writer Suna Dasi at the Greenwich Steampunk Summer Fete, acting the part of Tinku Ranbir as portrayed in The Clockwork Watch. Artwork by Jennie Gyllblad. Photo by Ziggy Gaji. (www.clockworkwatch.com)

image

2 Comments

Filed under Acting, Articles by Others, Diversity, Events, Hidden Exclusion, Media, MultiCulturalism in Steampunk, Steampunk, Writing

Exit Thoughts on Steampunk Hands Around the World. Musings from Steampunk India.

This video was shot for my EuroSteamCon 2013 contribution. I was asked to talk about what Steampunk specifically means to me and it seems that everything I speak about here is extremely relevant to the thoughts behind the Steampunk Hands Around the World initiative.

Today is the last day of a month filled with blog posts, events, shared links, special music offers and articles with the central theme of community and sharing within the Steampunk movement.
It has been a fascinating and uplifting experience; I have in fact done exactly what the mission statement suggested at the beginning of the month:
I have made new contacts, from Chile to Hawaii and gained an insight in how the Steampunk genre is expressed in other cultures.
Thank you Kevin D. Steil of the Airship Embassy, for asking me to be involved: I will certainly board the Dirigible of Diversity next year and will keep my fingers crossed that even more countries will do so, too.
Happy International Steampunk Month, one and all, here’s to breaking boundaries!

3 Comments

February 28, 2014 · 13:38