Thursday, 14 July 2011

Colonial Identities

I have a game for you. Please tell me what cultures the following groups of objects signal to you.

1. Earl Grey tea and white sugar. (Your probable answer.)

2. Tulips and fine blue-and-white china. (Your probable answer.)

3. Chocolate and diamonds. (Your probable answer.)

What's odd is that nothing about these items is indigenous to the European cultures we associate them with. They are all colonial imports. Why is it that some of the mainstays of European culture are imported? And why is it that non-European cultural artifacts are considered inauthentic when they have imported elements, like Chinese rap or African bottlecap art?

This has been something that's been on my mind since I've taken up tea-drinking. In that regard, I encourage you to read this post.

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