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Since launching Dieselpunks in 2009 as a safe haven and inspiration for diesel and steampunk artists, we’ve become one of the largest and most active punk communities in the world. And now, over five years later, we’re going to be forced to close this community unless you can help.

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Dieselpunks

Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

In the film, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – based on the bestselling novel of the same name – a young Abraham Lincoln’s life is changed forever after he discovers, to his horror, that slavery is an institution controlled by vampires and the slaves are not to be used for labor, but for food. Lincoln decides that to end slavery is to end the scourge of vampires. Lincoln thus becomes an Abolitionist.

The idea of this took me back to elementary school, wherein we were taught that Abraham freed the slaves after a terrible war between the Northern and Southern United States – fought because the “evil” South wanted to keep slaves and maintain slavery, while the “good” North sought to abolish slavery. A few years later, I learned that what was taught to us in elementary school was as absurd as Abraham Lincoln ending slavery to stop a plague of vampires.

Many Steampunks choose to ignore the horrors wrought by colonialism – slavery, indentured service, sexism, classism; they create a world in which these things do not exist, or are sugar-coated so badly, the world might end up diabetic.

Recently, in response to another blog I wrote entitled What is Steamfunk? Exposing The Big Steampunk Lie – which you can read athttp://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com/2012/04/05/what-is-steamfunk-exposing-the-big-steampunk-lie/ – a Steampunk said “History is exactly what it says on the tin, an event that happened in the past. Learn its lesson and move forward. The human race will never achieve its potential if we cannot let the past go, and progress to greater things. If race, religion, sex or age is an issue to you, it proves a lack of intelligence, or an example of a small mind, which in of itself is an evolutionary cul de sac.”

Now, I wanted to come back in some clever way, like former enslaved brother, Jourdon Anderson did in response to his former “master” asking him to return to work on the same plantation upon which he and his family suffered. But I…wait…you haven’t read the brilliant letter by old Jourdon? Well, here you go:

TO READ THIS BLOG IN ITS ENTIRETY, PLEASE VISIT:

http://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/steampunk-ameri...

Tags: abolitionist, abraham, africa, african, balogun, black, emancipation, harriet, history, lincoln, More…lynching, proclamation, railroad, reconstruction, slavery, steampunk, tubman, underground

Views: 191

Replies to This Discussion

Both of your blog posts are excellent!!! What you've written is exactly what's been needed to be said for a long time.

Well done, sir.

This! Lately I've been concerned with the direction steampunk is heading: it continues to marginalize the same groups oppressed under the cultural hegemony of the Victorian age. One of my friends is of Hindi descent and is interested in steampunk, but is put off by how it glosses over, even glorifies Britain's oppression of the Indian people. The dominant sensibilities remain white, and even more so Anglo.

Your response was as effing great as that steampunk's was infuriating. Hats off to you.

Very nice, Thank you!

Well stated, Balogun, and major points for bringing up "Sankofa", which I've felt is the concept at the heart of Diesel- or Steampunk.  I've been rather concerned myself that Retrofuturism might repeat the mistakes of the past if it chooses to downplay or ignore them.  Remember, all: Futurism (Marinetti, et al) dovetailed right into and helped pave the way for Fascism.  If we as "*-punks" are to become something NEW and RELEVENT and steer the world towards a positive direction then we need to remember the ugly side of that coin we picked up too.

Thanks, Larry!

Larry said:

Both of your blog posts are excellent!!! What you've written is exactly what's been needed to be said for a long time.

Well done, sir.

Thanks, so much, Douglas!

Your friend of Hindi descent should still explore Steampunk. I would love to read / see Steampunk from the Indian perspective.

Douglas Taylor said:

This! Lately I've been concerned with the direction steampunk is heading: it continues to marginalize the same groups oppressed under the cultural hegemony of the Victorian age. One of my friends is of Hindi descent and is interested in steampunk, but is put off by how it glosses over, even glorifies Britain's oppression of the Indian people. The dominant sensibilities remain white, and even more so Anglo.

Your response was as effing great as that steampunk's was infuriating. Hats off to you.

Thank YOU, for your comment!

T. von Kramer said:

Very nice, Thank you!

Well said, Cap'n Tony!

Thank you!

Cap'n Tony said:

Well stated, Balogun, and major points for bringing up "Sankofa", which I've felt is the concept at the heart of Diesel- or Steampunk.  I've been rather concerned myself that Retrofuturism might repeat the mistakes of the past if it chooses to downplay or ignore them.  Remember, all: Futurism (Marinetti, et al) dovetailed right into and helped pave the way for Fascism.  If we as "*-punks" are to become something NEW and RELEVENT and steer the world towards a positive direction then we need to remember the ugly side of that coin we picked up too.

I think Cap'n made a very, very important point here. Part of the power of Dieselpunk is that it allows for acknowledgement of this dark side to human nature. As George Santayana is so often quoted, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."


Cap'n Tony said:

Well stated, Balogun, and major points for bringing up "Sankofa", which I've felt is the concept at the heart of Diesel- or Steampunk.  I've been rather concerned myself that Retrofuturism might repeat the mistakes of the past if it chooses to downplay or ignore them.  Remember, all: Futurism (Marinetti, et al) dovetailed right into and helped pave the way for Fascism.  If we as "*-punks" are to become something NEW and RELEVENT and steer the world towards a positive direction then we need to remember the ugly side of that coin we picked up too.

These posts are fantastic! I am very supportive of steampunk from alternate and minority perspectives, but rarely get to see it. I've always been put off by the glossing over of colonial history in a lot of steampunk. Many of the authors that inspired steampunk, like Wells, were excellent social commentators and satirists whose sympathies lied with the oppressed (War of the Worlds is explicitly about colonialism and its horrors, for instance) and it seems this element has been largely lost.

A friend of mine, a Filipina, is working on a steampunk story dealing with the Spanish colonization of the Philippines and I think it has great potential. We need to see more of this type of thing, lest steampunk just become another Anglo aristocratic wank like feudal fantasy is.

Dieselpunk does seem to fall into the same traps a lot of times, of course. But generally I'm in agreement with Cap'n and Larry: Because diesel takes so much influence from the World Wars and interbellum period, there is a great entanglement with the dark side that can be a springboard for rich storytelling.

I have some friends who go to conventions and give a Multicultural Steampunk panel in which they try to encourage a wider view of Steampunk from the current Euro-centric one that exists. 

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