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  1. #71
    To the top of the world arcticangel02's Avatar
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    I can understand your frustration with stereotypes and inaccurate labels, Samuel, but I think this topic is, by it's very nature, too impossibly broad to ever resolve satisfactorily.

    You say you find the current labels of Europe and Asia inappropriate. What, then, would be appropriate? Discarding of continents altogether because of their lack of geographical seperation? Then what about the borders of individual countries? Why is the line between two countries in this particular place, as opposed to another? Is it fair to call one person Indian and another Pakistani if they live meters away from each other and share the same culture and language? It's just an arbitrary political line, isn't it? But then if you divide people based on culture, based on language and religion... very few places are isolated enough to categorise them effectively... there will always be blending and mixing and resulting in no clear divide between them. Now you can't group two different towns or villages together in one category because they consist of different people with different micro-cultures.

    You can follow that train of thought down to individual people. Everyone is different. How does it make sense to categorise one person with another? They are individuals and quite seperate from each other in values and outlook.

    How can you even begin to devise a label that would be appropriate? Any label is going to involve stereotyping, and stereotyping is going to involve misconceptions and assumptions.

    People use the stereotypes of "Asian" and "European" and so on, because they are convenient ways to refer to a group of people. The speaker assumes the listener understands the group in the same way he does. Describing someone as "Asian" here (Australia) is shorthand for describing a person as having south-east Asian heritage (Malaysian, Singaporean, Indonesian, Filipino, etc). It makes no assumptions about religion, culture or even country. If necessary, the speaker can then go into greater detail about this person. Of course, the word 'Asian' has a different assumed meaning elsewhere (eg. the UK), but that is true of language in general.

    Anyway, I think I'm just trying to say that I think you're going much too far in the point you're making - I agree that 'Asian' is used inaccurately, in the technical sense, but when you start arguing the validity of geopolitical borders, I think it's a different kettle of fish altogether.

    The purpose of language is to provide accurate communication. If both parties understand the same thing, does it really matter that the specific definition of that word is somewhat different? (All you have to do is look at the roots of most words to see how the understood definitions have changed over time from the original 'official' meaning.)

    Eg, when someone asks for a 'Kleenex', both parties understand that they mean a 'tissue', regardless of the brand. The fact that it was described as a Kleenex doesn't really matter.

    If the point you are making is that the generalisation comes hand-in-hand with racism (or a subtle form of it), then that, too, is a different issue altogether.
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  2. #72
    Wonderer Samuel De Mazarin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arcticangel02 View Post
    I can understand your frustration with stereotypes and inaccurate labels, Samuel, but I think this topic is, by it's very nature, too impossibly broad to ever resolve satisfactorily.
    By that criterion, we might as well talk about nothing that's controversial, because most of the important issues are quite broad.

    Quote Originally Posted by arcticangel02 View Post
    You say you find the current labels of Europe and Asia inappropriate. What, then, would be appropriate? Discarding of continents altogether because of their lack of geographical seperation? Then what about the borders of individual countries? Why is the line between two countries in this particular place, as opposed to another? Is it fair to call one person Indian and another Pakistani if they live meters away from each other and share the same culture and language? It's just an arbitrary political line, isn't it? But then if you divide people based on culture, based on language and religion... very few places are isolated enough to categorise them effectively... there will always be blending and mixing and resulting in no clear divide between them. Now you can't group two different towns or villages together in one category because they consist of different people with different micro-cultures.
    I don't know what would be more appropriate. But that doesn't mean there isn't a better answer to the question of how to theoretically divide peoples and lands in our nomenclature.

    Making divisions is a necessary element of our thinking process... however, I feel like we can at least strive for some element of consistency in our frameworks. The Europe/Asia divide is not coherent in the least, based on both geological and cultural considerations. The definition of continent is different for different continents. That's a fact. And that's what I was bringing attention to.

    When you have different countries, or nations, there's a real difference here, insofar as the people are members of different nations with different laws and clearly defined economic boundaries. Then, to extrapolate to deeper cultural differences based on national boundaries is a different affair altogether. It's not about proximity but about family resemblances. The history of the area now called Pakistan is the history of India pre-1947, so delineating cultural differences is much more complicated than simply saying, oh they're Pakistanis and they're Indians, so they're different.

    Quote Originally Posted by arcticangel02 View Post
    You can follow that train of thought down to individual people. Everyone is different. How does it make sense to categorise one person with another? They are individuals and quite seperate from each other in values and outlook.

    How can you even begin to devise a label that would be appropriate? Any label is going to involve stereotyping, and stereotyping is going to involve misconceptions and assumptions.
    True... and exactly... so one tries to use labels which have clearly defined limits.

    Quote Originally Posted by arcticangel02 View Post
    People use the stereotypes of "Asian" and "European" and so on, because they are convenient ways to refer to a group of people. The speaker assumes the listener understands the group in the same way he does. Describing someone as "Asian" here (Australia) is shorthand for describing a person as having south-east Asian heritage (Malaysian, Singaporean, Indonesian, Filipino, etc). It makes no assumptions about religion, culture or even country. If necessary, the speaker can then go into greater detail about this person. Of course, the word 'Asian' has a different assumed meaning elsewhere (eg. the UK), but that is true of language in general.
    "A group of people" <--- what does that mean... to some people, being "Asian" is an ethnicity... As for your claiming that calling someone "Asian" makes no assumptions about culture, that's not true at all... I'm constantly hearing about "Asian" (and "Eastern") values.

    Quote Originally Posted by arcticangel02 View Post
    Anyway, I think I'm just trying to say that I think you're going much too far in the point you're making - I agree that 'Asian' is used inaccurately, in the technical sense, but when you start arguing the validity of geopolitical borders, I think it's a different kettle of fish altogether.
    I (obviously) don't think I'm going too far at all.. "Asian" is not used inaccurately... it's an invalid terminology based on the conflicting extensional and intensional accounts of its meaning. Thus, it needs to be changed. In my opinion, of course. Too many people, and too many people in places of power (like political institutions) rely on the term to define their policies for the word "Asian" not to be addressed. As I said, I see "Asianism" as part of the older Orientalism/Easternism. The whole concept of "West" and "East" is also wrapped up in here.

    Quote Originally Posted by arcticangel02 View Post
    The purpose of language is to provide accurate communication. If both parties understand the same thing, does it really matter that the specific definition of that word is somewhat different? (All you have to do is look at the roots of most words to see how the understood definitions have changed over time from the original 'official' meaning.)
    Both parties DON'T understand the same things here. And official meanings are generally dictatorial and force people to accept things which may not be true. Very few people have questioned the racial component in continental definitions and how "West" and "East" sully the global attempt at mutual understandings between people of different geographies and cultures.

    Quote Originally Posted by arcticangel02 View Post
    Eg, when someone asks for a 'Kleenex', both parties understand that they mean a 'tissue', regardless of the brand. The fact that it was described as a Kleenex doesn't really matter.
    This is not analogous at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by arcticangel02 View Post
    If the point you are making is that the generalisation comes hand-in-hand with racism (or a subtle form of it), then that, too, is a different issue altogether.
    It's not a different issue. The names we have for people, the way we choose to slice up the world and its inhabitants, plays very directly into the way we interact with the world. Besides, if generalizations were based on REAL categories, I'd have less of a problem. But generalizing traits based on unreal categories is a fantasy game that is insidious to its core.


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  3. #73
    Wonderer Samuel De Mazarin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Modern Nomad View Post
    east asia = Korea, Japan, Mongolia, maybe China

    SE Asia = vietnam, cambodia, thailand, phillipines

    South Asia = India, Pakistan

    Central Asia = Kazahkstan, Uzbekistan.

    The history of Kazahkstan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, etc... nomadic Central Asian history in general is pretty fascinating. Many similiarities with early Native American cultures, shamanism, history etc...
    Quote Originally Posted by GZA View Post
    When I think of "asian people", I think of what CC said; Japan, Korea, China, Thailand, Cambodia, Taiwan, ect... East Asia. I think of middle eastern people as middle eastern or Arab, and I think of Indian people as Indian. These include people of those ethnicity who may have been born elsewhere. I don't know any Russians from the asian part of Russia, so that hasn't crossed my mind.

    Here's a question; are native people "asian"? Apparently some anthropologists consider them asian when using such huge blanket terms as "asian", "white", "black", "indian", ect.
    These posts have not addressed the OP.
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