This is a map of Asia. North Americans, you may notice this map is not solely comprised of Japan, Korea, China and Thailand. People in the UK, you may notice India is not a continent. That is, if those of you who generalize entire continents can even pinpoint India on a map. Indians are Asian, gasp! And not all brown skinned people are Indian, also, gasp! There are an alarming amount of people, of all ages, from all backgrounds, who seem to be unable to process this.
I’m ethnically Asian. Since Asia is an extremely large continent, I could be from any number of countries. I am neither from India, China, Korea, Japan or Pakistan, yet not so surprisingly, I am still Asian.
Yes, there are commonalities across regions, through the conflation of cultures, colonialism, globalization, transnationalism and movement of diasporas. Sometimes these are all the same thing. Rickshaws, rice and curry can be found across the continent. But let’s not overgeneralize. You can also find Buddhists, Catholics, Muslims and Hindus across Asia. Cantonese Speaking Chinese Muslims! English Speaking Indian Jews!
No, we are not all the same. Orientalism? (Please look up Edward Said for basic concepts) No thank you.
Geography, people. It’s important.
This pops up on my dash every so often. I reblog it again, not just because I wrote it, but because nothing has changed since I first posted this.
What’s cool about Iran is that it falls in 3 different regions of Asia so depending on what part of Iran you’re in, you can kind of get culture shocked a bit. The central and western part of the country is West Asia, the north east is Central Asia, and the southeast is in South Asia.
To the folks wondering about Russia being included, I want to mention that the cultural debates and angst about that has been going on for CENTURIES. While France has been pretty fetishized all the way back from Peter the Great, there is no question that we are not Europe, even with that influence showing really obviously in historical seats of power like St. Petersburg. Nonetheless, the whole country was under control of the Mongols (The Golden Horde) from roughly 1242 to 1480, and that left an enormous Mongolian and Tatar heritage that remains to this day. The ancient Scythians are huge in the cultural imagination as well. And besides… look at the Russians who are outside the standard “Kievan Rus” phenotype (which most folks assume is how all Russians look.)
Here are three of the 30 distinct ethnic groups in Siberia alone:
Buryat grandfather, photo by Alexander Newby
Evenk children, photo by Evgenia Arbugaeva
Young Yakut couple, photographer unknown
AS SOMEONE WITH NORTHERN IRANIAN (AZERBAIJANI)/RUSSIAN/ HAZARA-PERSIAN/ UYGHUR-CHINESE ANCESTRY THIS IS SUCH A BEAUTIFUL POST
And that’s why sometimes you’ll see a person with curly black hair, pale skin, and hazel-green eyes (my grand-father’s sister) who turn out to be Chinese. Mad recessive genes game at play, I swear. Mongols, they really got around.