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Munamania #9: Buying Roots

 
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Munan
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2006 6:27 am    Post subject: Munamania #9: Buying Roots Reply with quote

One of my favourite Dutch literary characters is Sir Oliver B. Bumble. Through heritage and investments, this self proclaimed member of the lower aristocracy has become fabulously rich, which has enabled him to buy an (as he himself calls it) ancestral castle, naming it Bumblestein. It is, of course, a bit dodgy to buy yourself a castle and then calling it ancestral, but I admire Bumble’s skill of creating his own roots.

Roots have become important again in our fragmented society. When I was young, nobody really noticed the foreignness of my name and hardly saw anything exotic in my looks. But with the growing stress on cultural background in the Netherlands, I am more and more asked the question ‘where are you from?’. The true answer is a bit dull: I am from the sleepy provincial Dutch town Zwolle. I do not believe my roots lie anywhere else than there. They do not lie, for instance, in my father’s country – I have never been there and my upbringing was not very Indonesian. I realise, however, that Indonesia of course makes for far more interesting roots than Zwolle and on occasion I have stressed my descent from lower Javanese aristocracy.

In a society in which roots have become so important, this is a good story, but though it is true, I would be the first to admit its irrelevance. Again, I was not raised in an Indonesian way of any significance. At my home, spicy food was not called ‘hot’ but ‘padis’ – that is about the limit of our exoticness. No age old traditions were passed on to me. Javanese customary law, for instance, prescribes that every father supplies his son with a traditional dagger, a ‘kris’, preferably the one he got from his father, who got it from his, etcetera. This kris is given when the son reaches manhood, which is quite a hilarious custom if one considers the phallic symbolism of a dagger. But I was supplied with none and neither was my father. Even though both my father and my grandfather also really liked Oliver B. Bumble, they were never very interested in passing on tradition and my grandfather’s kris disappeared when he died. So this winter, when I travel to Indonesia for the first time in my life, I think I will buy myself an ancestral kris: if our fathers do not supply us with our manhood anymore, we have to create it ourselves.

edit: grammatical error


Last edited by Munan on Thu Jan 11, 2007 5:39 am; edited 1 time in total
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wrincewind



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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2006 5:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

it is interesting that your father is indonesian. my best freinds (step) mother is also from java, and i have visited there before. Without a doupt, java is the hottest country i have ever visited, includind most of australia.
I don't know if you read the works of Pratchett, but in one of his latest books, going postal, the main bad guy (is it antagonist? i can't rmember) is claimed to have brought himself a pedigree, and ancestors.
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Robot Chicken Koko



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 21, 2006 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm White... Or Caucasian, or a Cracker, whatever you want to call me. Being White, like lots of other Americans out there, creates a disconnect between me and my past. How can I create roots without traditions, or bond with my past if it lacks culture?
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cfos



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PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 3:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"How can I create roots without traditions, or bond with my past if it lacks culture?"

That is a pretty good question. Of course, since you are not a "Native" American, your family didn't start here. You probably can find that out with some searching or talking with the elders in the family for a direction. It would be very surprising if there was a complete lack of culture. You can visit places your family may have previously lived in (assuming they aren't from your current town), visit locations that they frequented or find out what important or passed down to them.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cfos wrote:
"How can I create roots without traditions, or bond with my past if it lacks culture?"

That is a pretty good question. Of course, since you are not a "Native" American, your family didn't start here. You probably can find that out with some searching or talking with the elders in the family for a direction. It would be very surprising if there was a complete lack of culture. You can visit places your family may have previously lived in (assuming they aren't from your current town), visit locations that they frequented or find out what important or passed down to them.


I'll start my search for culture in West Virginia.

wait....
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2006 7:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

(I'd forgotten about this section of the forum... good to see that it's still alive.)

Koko wrote:
I'm White... Or Caucasian, or a Cracker, whatever you want to call me. Being White, like lots of other Americans out there, creates a disconnect between me and my past. How can I create roots without traditions, or bond with my past if it lacks culture?

"White" isn't a race; it's not even the color of your skin. Your ancestors came from somewhere, and in fact, most "white" people are actually one or more different "minorities" who happen to have one unifying trait- they lack significant amounts of melanin or other skin pigmentation.

Like cfos said, your family didn't start in the US; seek out wherever they came from, and learn their ways.

Personally, I don't have much of a connection with my roots, and I don't think that they mean that much- perhaps it's different here in America, especially in New York City, where people make a concerted effort to be cosmopolitan and PC, but I don't really feel the need for racial identity, my own or for others.

Judge me for who I am, not what you percieve me to be, nor what my heritage might proclaim me to be.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 6:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CottonFluff wrote:
(I'd forgotten about this section of the forum... good to see that it's still alive.)

Koko wrote:
I'm White... Or Caucasian, or a Cracker, whatever you want to call me. Being White, like lots of other Americans out there, creates a disconnect between me and my past. How can I create roots without traditions, or bond with my past if it lacks culture?

"White" isn't a race; it's not even the color of your skin. Your ancestors came from somewhere, and in fact, most "white" people are actually one or more different "minorities" who happen to have one unifying trait- they lack significant amounts of melanin or other skin pigmentation.

Like cfos said, your family didn't start in the US; seek out wherever they came from, and learn their ways.

Personally, I don't have much of a connection with my roots, and I don't think that they mean that much- perhaps it's different here in America, especially in New York City, where people make a concerted effort to be cosmopolitan and PC, but I don't really feel the need for racial identity, my own or for others.

Judge me for who I am, not what you percieve me to be, nor what my heritage might proclaim me to be.


No, White is a race. You'll see it when you fill out job applications, credit card forms, college applications (because being something other than white is an advantage...), and other stuff. I don't know though, I'd try to identify with my Spanish roots. I'm 25%, grandmama is a pure Spaniard, but that's not much, I just barely look Spanish.
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CottonFluff




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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Koko wrote:
No, White is a race. You'll see it when you fill out job applications, credit card forms, college applications...

By the same token, so are Russian, Polish, and I don't know, Dutch, and you could justifiably put those on the application as well.

...I'm just sayin'.
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Robot Chicken Koko



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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 11:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well then you'd have to put french, spanish, mexican, ecuadorian, argentinian, morrocan, taiwanese, japanese, korean, vietnamese, nigerian, kenyan, morrocan, guatemalan, russian, dutch, .... etc. See my point, is that justifiable? Where do you draw the line? White has become a race because no-one says I'm Dutch Finnish Irish Jewish American. They say White. The way you want to define yourself is ok, that's your choice, but eventually you'll have to fit in somewhere.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 1:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, some people *do* give thier "subclassification," like Jewish people (who aren't a race, they are an "ethnicity" defined by religion) for example. Many black Americans don't know what their exact roots are, as any traces of lineage were lost on the boat ride.

I don't see where the problem is, especially as the list of groups that you gave is a pretty diverse bunch. Hell, I might even be be offended if I were Greek, and someone called me "a white guy," considering the connotations of lameness attached to it...
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