"Decolonizing D&D"

LordofArcana

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'Terrorists' like Frodo, Luke Skywalker, the French Resistance, or other WWII partisans?
Frodo is a state agent. The Shire is neutral(?) in the War of the Ring, but he is acting as a foreign fighter for fantasy NATO. Gandalf is a military advisor from the superpower Valinor and many of the other people Frodo works with are diplomatic agents of their peoples or outright heads of state.

Luke is a uniformed soldier in a civil war (not that it would stop the empire from calling him a terrorist).
 

DavetheLost

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Luke isn't uniformed until he puts on the flight suit at the end of Star Wars. Then he doesn't appear in uniform again in the whole series.
 

ezekiel

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Luke isn't uniformed until he puts on the flight suit at the end of Star Wars. Then he doesn't appear in uniform again in the whole series.
Technically speaking, he (somehow, we're never quite sure how) acquires multiple sets of properly-tailored Jedi robes, which are from a set of (loosely-defined) uniforms for an explicitly state-sponsored order of religious warriors. "The Jedi have defended the Republic for a thousand generations" or whatever, their central temple is explicitly ensconced on the capital world of the Republic, the Republic legally approves(/approved) of their policy of removing children from their families in order to be trained, and the two organizations are sufficiently intertwined that the ruling body of the Jedi (their High Council) had to accept, but only barely tolerate, a Republic-executive mandate to place someone as an observer on their High Council (Palpatine appointing Anakin as his personal representative on the High Council).

Although the Republic is clearly in shambles, being still deep in the middle of a civil war, the pre-coup government-in-exile clearly still recognizes the official legal connections between the Republic and the Jed. Even though "the Jedi" at that point basically means "the one remaining Jedi named Luke Skywalker." The post-war provision of land, supplies, and active aid in rebuilding the order (by finding force-sensitive adults and offering them training at the new Praxeum on Yavin IV).

It also doesn't hurt that the Jedi Temple was, apparently, converted into the new Imperial Palace after Order 66--conquering and destroying symbols of the old order is a great way to symbolically demonstrate the power and dominance of a new order, after all (a very colonialist thing!) So Palpatine somewhat implicitly recognized the connection between the Republic and the Jedi by re-using Jedi resources in his attempt to solidify control over the newly-renamed Empire.
 

wheloc

He's trying real hard to be one of the good guys.
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'Terrorists' like Frodo, Luke Skywalker, the French Resistance, or other WWII partisans?
Sure, if you win you maybe get called something nicer like "partisan" ;)

...but yeah, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars are both narratives steeped in colonialism, and France is a literal real-world colonial power. You can't decolonize a game by drawing from any of those things.

In particular, I love stories of the French Resistance, but their scrappy underdog status while occupied didn't stop France from massacring people in Vietnam or Algeria in the following decades.
 

mindstalk

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...but yeah, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars are both narratives steeped in colonialism, and France is a literal real-world colonial power. You can't decolonize a game by drawing from any of those things.
You seem to be overusing 'colonialism' to the point of meaninglessness.

The Star Wars trilogy I grew up with was a simple tale of Republic suborned into Empire, and Rebellion against that. There wasn't any colonialism, really.

LotR may have more, but the books aren't really steeped in it. The active colonial/imperial power is Sauron, whatever Gondor's ancient history. The hobbits are the sort of people who would get colonized if there were any humans left in Eriador to do so.

And yes, France was a colonial power. That's irrelevant to the local French resistance against the Nazis -- a resistance with parallels in Poland, Jewish ghettos, and the Balkans.

In particular, I love stories of the French Resistance, but their scrappy underdog status while occupied didn't stop France from massacring people in Vietnam or Algeria in the following decades.
True; so what? What France did later doesn't empty their anti-Nazi resistance of meaning, nor turn any fictional small partisan group into a stalking horse for colonialism.

And heck, one could use Algeria or Vietnam as models. But most of us know less about them.
 

Voros

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No, Native Americans. Many of whom seem to prefer 'Indian'.
I grew up next to a Rez and for the older generation this is generally true but if you used it among a lot of younger Indigenous people you'd likely get the stink eye.

Sure, if you win you maybe get called something nicer like "partisan" ;)

...but yeah, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars are both narratives steeped in colonialism, and France is a literal real-world colonial power. You can't decolonize a game by drawing from any of those things.

In particular, I love stories of the French Resistance, but their scrappy underdog status while occupied didn't stop France from massacring people in Vietnam or Algeria in the following decades.
Lucas intended SW to have an anti-colonialist subtext.

Back in a 1973 note on “Star Wars,” Lucas made clear which side he was rooting for in the Vietnam War: “A large technological empire going after a small group of freedom fighters.”

Whether he succeeded in that is another question.
 
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Uqbarian

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Of course, then you have to consider the conditions that lead to banditry. This often involves (A) a number of people with military training and equipment, (B) no money to pay for an army, and (C) a relatively wealthy society such that it's more productive to hunt people than to settle down for some subsistence farming. (Other kinds of banditry exist, of course. But those tend to be more opportunistic locals with sticks, rather than the well-equipped bandit camp we might know from Robin Hood or similar. Or be pirates, which is another story altogether and often comes with state sponsorship.)

This type of bandit tends to result from recent wars. A central government has spent a lot on a big campaign, and then underspent on social security for the veterans, who go into business in freelance mayhem. This is why Rome gave its legionaries land on retirement: it was a powerful motivator. (Too powerful, in that the legions tended to be very loyal to the leaders who handed out the land, rather than the society of Rome.) Bandits tend to spill out of feudal societies, where stability is low and military activity is encouraged: medieval Europe and Sengoku-era Japan do this a lot. They also happen after large-scale civil wars: Three Kingdoms in China, the Wild West following the Civil War in the US.

Overall, what we call bandits tend to be the product of a strong state, although that state is unlikely to remain strong if bandits are popping up inside its territory.
I'd be hesitant to call any 'feudal society' a 'strong state'. If anything, I thought banditry was usually considered a symptom of a weak state.

Though thinking as I type (and also rereading your last sentence), I realise it's not that strong a contradiction. Arguably, banditry tends to arise when authority is strengthening (e.g. a relatively new regime has not entrenched its authority, or a region has been conquered but not yet 'pacified' by an imperialising power) or weakening (e.g. an established regime is not maintaining its social and military support (corruption and elite disengagement often being involved here), or a region under the influence of an imperialising power that is destabilising local authority).
 

LordofArcana

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I grew up next to a Rez and for the older generation this is generally true but if you used it among a lot of younger Indigenous people you'd likely get the stink eye.
My understanding is that a lot of that support is out of concern that the US would use "they aren't really Indians" as an excuse to get out of treaties.

Which, yeah, I could definitely see us doing.
 

Ithaeur

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Okay, so this is not 100% directly relevant, but I think a lot of the more academically inclined people here would be interested in this recent doctoral thesis at University of Helsinki, about racialized stereotypes and concepts in SFF imagery: The Semiospheres of Prejudice in the Fantastic Arts : The Inherited Racism of Irrealia and Their Translation

I'm quoting the English abstract:
This study discusses the evolution of racialized concepts in the genres of the fantastic, especially fantasy, science fiction, and supernatural horror. It provides the first detailed interpretation of how such concepts are constructed and how they develop based on their interaction with the evolving cultural landscapes, thus showing how characteristics are borrowed from real world cultural stereotypes. The analysis concentrates on fantastic renderings of racialized stereotypes based on real world cultural fears. The concepts are examined both in their source cultures and through the lenses of transmediality and translation. As the fantastic arts have always been heavily transmedial in nature, the study is not limited to a certain art form, but views all media as complementary in producing concepts of the fantastic, either by adding new facets to the concepts, or by changing them on a temporal basis.

Contextualizing concepts in the fantastic arts through their linkage to the real world cultural development provides a method through which we can perceive how the concepts are built on – and preserve – racialized stereotypes of their cultures of origin. In order to do so, this study provides a framework that utilizes several approaches from cultural semiotics as well as translation studies. Furthermore, it presents a view of the evolution of the genres in specific media through case studies. The framework is applied to some well-known fantastic concepts (orcs, dwarves, goblins, and gnomes), by mapping their entry into the fantastic arts and examining how the changes in their signifying imagery have affected their allusive links to the real world stereotypes that are (intentionally or non-intentionally) portrayed through them. In addition, translational tools are applied in a case study to examine how racialized features are transported to a new cultural setting in translation.

The study argues that the inclusion of properties of racialized stereotypes from real world cultures to fantastic concepts is widespread and that especially negative racialized allusions often survive in texts of the fantastic, even after they have been perceived as offensive in the real world cultures from which they stem. It displays how racialized narratives can change when fantastic concepts inherit properties from new real world racialized stereotypes, and how inheriting signifiers from a “positive” real world racialization can affect the negative properties of fantastic concepts.

Keywords: semiotics, fantasy, science fiction, game studies, transmediality, racism
 

Orientalist

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The Star Wars trilogy I grew up with was a simple tale of Republic suborned into Empire, and Rebellion against that. There wasn't any colonialism, really.

LotR may have more, but the books aren't really steeped in it. The active colonial/imperial power is Sauron, whatever Gondor's ancient history. The hobbits are the sort of people who would get colonized if there were any humans left in Eriador to do so.

And yes, France was a colonial power. That's irrelevant to the local French resistance against the Nazis -- a resistance with parallels in Poland, Jewish ghettos, and the Balkans.



True; so what? What France did later doesn't empty their anti-Nazi resistance of meaning, nor turn any fictional small partisan group into a stalking horse for colonialism.

And heck, one could use Algeria or Vietnam as models. But most of us know less about them.
Out of curiosity, have you ever read any colonial theorists?
 
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