On Non-Western European Shade

(WordPress is broken. This will be cross-posted to my site there as soon as I can get my host to fix it.)

Two years ago, Northshield went through a meme craze with the tag “We Are Northshield.” This was my submission.

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At the time, I hadn’t fully committed to a Chinese persona. (And frankly, I still cling to the whole Time Lord thing because there are far too many interesting things to research to nail oneself down, but I do admit to having my TARDIS stuck in 8th century China.) But now, my Chinese name is registered as my primary. So that happened.

I say all this as an introduction to an issue that has been bubbling under the surface of SCAdian culture for some time now – the inclusion of non-western European personas/research.

Years ago, it was Japan. Japanologists struggled to find acceptance within the SCA, and are pretty well established now. The Ottoman Empire, various eras of Persia, and even Mongols have found a niche.

But there are still people who sneer and eyebrow and even go so far as to speak to non-European personas about how they’re presence is ruining their game.

Pardon me, m’lady/m’lord One True Century.

Until we can document time machines (or Time Lords, for that matter) in period, you’re not going to convince me that the 9th century Norse folks or the Picts aren’t ruining your game any more or less than me and my bevy of beautiful Tang Dynasty ladies, or the fabulosity that is Ancient Egypt or the Oyo Empire.

(By the way, your silk Gothic fitted gown is gorgeous. Guess where sericulture was invented and refined before it made its way to you along a trade route that had been in existence for over two thousand years before your persona was even a glimmer in your mother’s eye.)

That’s not even touching the point that while you, so entrenched in your Tudor or your 14th century wherever, have a veritable cornucopia of established, published, and verified research at your disposal, while we

– have to scrape and struggle as we blaze new trails;

– desperately search for English sources and translators for the non-English sources;

– battle myth, “traditional,” and a dearth of citations; and,

– do experimental archeology pretty much every time we pick up a needle and thread.

We are brave for trying new things. For searching for nuggets to chew on and broaden the horizons of the SCA. For not wanting to do what has been done, but wanting to learn new things and share them. For trying to find a way to incorporate the equivalent of heraldry and sumptuary law into a system not equipped to handle us. For teaching new things to enrich everyone’s knowledge and experience.

Does this make us better than you?

Nope. Not saying that. Definitely do not want to get into a merit-judging match here.

But it does not make us lesser.

Shade is for lounging, not throwing.

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