The SEA is Ours is this month's topic challenge. The purpose of these challenges is to increase the diversity of the literature that we discuss on this site. This is important for a number of reasons, among them to increase our understanding of cultures other than our own.

Therefore, I'd like to ask if the stories from The SEA is Ours accurately portray South-East Asian culture. I have little to no prior experience with SEA culture, and want to ensure that I'm getting a correct picture from the stories of this anthology (whenever my copy arrives). I understand that culture isn't static, and that part of writing SEA characters and culture into a steampunk world necessitates the creation of something new; however, I imagine that an effort was made to preserve the essence of SEA culture and society in the brave new steampunk world(s) of this collection. If that effort falls short in some manner, I'd like to be alerted about it in advance so that I don't come to misunderstand the culture under discussion.

While an argument could be made that if "SEA authors are writing SEA steampunk, then it would be difficult for it to not in some way be an authentic representation of SEA culture," I know that other efforts by members of a given culture to explain parts of that culture have fallen short in different ways. (See, for example, this part of a conversation in chat regarding Chamorro culture.)

I suppose that the best answers to this question will come from those who have both read the book, and are familiar enough with SEA culture to point to things that were done correctly (or not). Answers that quote reviews from South-East Asians describing the accuracy of the stories are also acceptable.

(I had a conversation about this in chat which may be of use to potential answerers.)

  • That book sounds interesting! I'll have to have a look. With respect to whether an artifact is part of a group's culture, I would agree with the statement that being made by a member of a group is a sufficient (but not necessary criterion). But I agree that the issue of accuracy (and in particular) the promotion of stereotypes is not swept under rug by that. Authors are perfectly capable of writing stereotypical depictions of their own groups, and I have seen a few.
    – Obie 2.0
    Jun 24, 2017 at 15:26
  • Then again, nor is accuracy a requirement, either for members of a group or non-members, particularly in the realm of fantasy, where it is all but necessary to make up cultural elements; but if there is a risk that a reader will misinterpret some created detail as an actual representation of a culture, it's probably best to clear that up in an appendix. I love research sections for that reason.
    – Obie 2.0
    Jun 24, 2017 at 15:28


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