By Laura Kressly
Old Six and his wife Second Moon are poor but have a new baby. Eunich Lin is constantly ridiculed for his lack of balls and family’s poor timing. Big Dog doesn’t know his real name and loves smoking a bit too much. Apart from the love of performing Chinese opera to their friends and families, there’s little else that brings joy to this rural village in Shandong Province. But when the villagers hear that the British and French are recruiting men to work in labour camps to support the WWI troops, this could be a way to change their fortunes.
by Laura Kressly
Newly-minted Cambridge graduate Charles Darwin wants to collect insects and rocks, but his father wants him to enter the clergy. When one of his lecturers recommends him for the positions of resident naturalist onboard Naval ship The Beagle, the 22-year-old jumps at the chance. Over the next five years he sails the world, collects specimens and constructs ideas that eventually become On the Origin of Species. He is also a part of an imperialist mission ridden with Christian colonial attitudes that, in this script, are disappointingly excused in favour of spectacular design.
Some time in the past, there is an island of disparate peoples happily carrying on with their lives. Each group has its own rules, traditions and customs. Life is hard, but there is order and implicit ownership of lands that they have lived on for generations.
Then soldiers from a foreign nation that they’ve never heard of arrive. They kill many of the natives, rape some and enslave others. Agreements are made that the natives don’t really understand, and as time passes they become second-class people in a place that is no longer theirs.
A middle-aged, gay Welshman contemplates the English class he teaches in Hong Kong. Amongst the students is Windy, the Chinese woman with whom he shares his bed. Utterly smitten with her, he refers to her as his Pocahontas. He then kisses a barbie doll with long black hair and tanned skin.
Pocahontas was a Native American woman kidnapped by the colonising English in the 1600s, forced to marry, then taken to Britain. The same woman bore her husband a child then died, aged 21, after contracting a European illness.
@hannahnicklin: Since reading this I keep on thinking in quiet moments ‘women are raped nightly so I can have tomatoes in winter’
We know we exploit foreign workers for cheap goods, because we’re liberal and aware. But does that stop us? Largely, no – because we can’t afford to. I buy my clothes from Primark and my fruit and veg from the stalls that line Peckham Rye because I work in the arts and I’m poor. I don’t give any thought to where they come from in the transactional moment, but am righteously moved by articles like the one above that Hannah Nicklin tweeted. Sure, this makes me a hypocrite. But I need only to look at the other people also shopping on Sunday mornings to reinforce that I am far from alone. Most of my fellow “liberal elites” (educated, urban and left leaning) are the same, and centuries of imperialism (obviously white, male and western-led) have established the systems that the whole of society (including the liberal factions) implicitly condones through consumerism.