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View Poll Results: ?
You get offended when somebody insults your background. 7 18.42%
Youíll defend your background, but youíre not that bothered by what other people say. 12 31.58%
You donít care what people say about your background, nor do you care about others'. 12 31.58%
Itís funny when comedians do it. 7 18.42%
Voters: 38. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 2010-05-25, 09:03   Link #41
JMvS
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Theowne View Post
You know, the Singapore example is interesting. I'm assuming, obviously, that TinyRedLeaf is Singaporean Chinese. He's railing against foreigners coming to Singapore to make a better living with no interest in mixing with the local culture, displacing the "real Singaporean".

But what is the real Singaporean, exactly? Isn't this how the Chinese (and other groups) came to Singapore in the first place? To find better opportunity back when the British were still running things? Were they foreign money pigs then too? And they didn't exactly adapt to the indigenous culture after becoming a majority. I'm not making a criticism - this is all part of history, and Canada did the same thing. It just seems like his post is filled with a lot of contradictions.

He also says this:
Well, his point of view is that of someone who has roots in a special land, meaning he is attached to this special place and is grateful to all the previous generation who built it. It's only natural that his hearth would cringe when seeing the place filled with peoples who do not care.

Quote:
He doesn't seem to realize that national boundaries in Western Europe are ethnic lines. Identifying as "Chinese" is not different from identifying oneself as "British". A descendant of the Chinese versus a descendant of the British. Unless he thinks all Western Europeans are identical and should identify this way - in which case, shouldn't he be identifying as Vietnamese too? And then the bit about "having set foot on every continent". But that's true for so many groups in the same capacity (British, Africans, Indians, etc). I'm not really sure what to make of this part.
Oh you are so mistaken... national boundaries are still far from coinciding with ethnic lines in Europe, despite all the reworkings that were done since WW1 (and the end of multiethnic and multicultural empires). Never heard of all those ethnic wars that happened in Yugoslavia in the 90's? And this example is only the tip of the iceberg, for many so-called Nation-States do not encompass all those who share the same heritage, many being in minorities, or being a major component in if not making a whole separate state.


On a personal matter. I think national and cultural identities are important. I think I can relate to TinyReadLeaf for I share a similar bond with my country, yet I have way older roots which I am proud of.

I am living in and proud of being a Swiss citizen, a country built over the centuries by a handful of people coming form different cultures. I am specially attached to the special region I live in, since my roots there date back more than a few centuries.

Yet I also have another composite heritage, which shows dominantly in my appearance: I am also a Filipino, and this country, it's people and culture hold a place dear in my hearth.

To sum it up, I am culturally Swiss, ethnically "Eurasian" if anything else, and I embrace all the cultures of my forebears: Roman, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog and Bicolanos (and will never feel guilty to bash those countries ).
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Old 2010-05-25, 13:14   Link #42
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In all the best stories, there are always three Cs to bear in mind: Context, Complexity and Confusion.

Without knowledge of context, you understand nothing. But with context comes increasing levels of complexity that words struggle to convey accurately. And when that struggle fails, as it often will, confusion arises.

It appears that my post has stirred up a number of emotions, some positive, some negative. That is as it should be. I pulled no punches and expected no mercy. Attacks on my character and beliefs, I can easily brush aside — they come with the territory and I accept the risks wholeheartedly. I trust that those in this forum who are familiar with me would better understand where I am coming from, and that's enough for me.

But the confusion over Singaporeans' attitudes towards the foreigners in our midst is another matter that I feel demands immediate redress. The misunderstandings arising from my comments are extremely regrettable, not least because it was not my intention to disparage my country in such a way.

Just last Saturday (May 22), our national English-language broadsheet, The Straits Times, published a special report that became a weekend sensation, drawing strong responses across the board. I've linked the feature, as it appeared in print, in PDF format below.

Why PDF? Because this is one of those stories you have to see along with its pictures in order to feel the full, heartbreaking impact.

Quote:
Shattered Dreams
By Neo Xiaobin

When karaoke lounge hostess Li Hong Yan was found naked and dead in a Sentosa Cove bungalow in March, photojournalist Neo Xiaobin knew there was more it than sleaze and scandal. She took an arduous 10-day journey to rural China to discover the depths of the tragedy.

IT LOOKED like another lurid tale from the seamier side of Singapore life — the naked body of a beautiful Chinese karaoke lounge hostess found floating in the pool of a posh Sentosa bungalow owned by a wealthy real-estate tycoon.

Most of the squalid details were there. It does not take much imagination to fill in the details, nor much time for the sniggering to start. Village girl from China turns hostess in Singapore to make a quick buck, comes to grief — morality tales do not come much clearer than that.

But look a bit harder behind the scandal headlines and a different, more complex and distressing tale, emerges.

It is one of an impoverished family, bereaved and bewildered by a tragedy they can hardly comprehend, who sell everything they own to make a desperate journey to Singapore to bring home their daughter's body.

It is also a tale of Third World ambition coming up hard against the harsher, unforgiving realities of life in a rich country and a tale — there is some good out of all of this — of what the kindness of strangers can achieve.

THE STRAITS TIMES
Shattered Dreams 01
Shattered Dreams 02
Shattered Dreams 03
Shattered Dreams 04-05
Shattered Dreams 06-07

Neo Xiaobin's blog can be found here. Do give her your feedback if you have any. In particular, take a glance at some of the comments she has received — they provide a fairly representative snapshot of the current opinion on the street in Singapore, with respect to how we treat and regard foreigners.

Life is an eternity of grey. It's one thing to know what is the right. It's another thing altogether to remember to act on one's convictions.
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Old 2010-05-25, 13:49   Link #43
Theowne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMvS View Post
Oh you are so mistaken... national boundaries are still far from coinciding with ethnic lines in Europe
My point isn't whether every single arbitrary modern border coincides with every single ethnic group. My point is that the historical European divisions of nation/culture (French/British/German/Russian) coincide with the same level of ethnic division of Asians (Chinese/Vietnamese/Thai) that he is talking about. He seems to believe that identifying as "British" or "Russian" is merely a case of national identification, which it isn't, unless one would say the same for the Japanese or Cambodians. And some people would, which is fine. But you can't have it both ways.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JMvS
Well, his point of view is that of someone who has roots in a special land
You use the word "roots". There are other ethnic groups who have ties to the region even further back in history who might say the same thing about the modern Singaporeans. Where it does it start or end? That's all I'm wondering.
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Last edited by Theowne; 2010-05-25 at 14:04.
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Old 2010-05-25, 16:07   Link #44
Nosauz
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Well if you think about actual Chinese mannerisms, regional geographic distinctions are very important. Upon introduction to a new acquaintance the first thing Chinese will ask is where is your home. The notion of home, birth home allows for a form of acknowledgment of the persons history and allows for some other form of connection. Usually the village/province will be given and these provinces naturally lead to talking points, because they allow us to relate to the others. We will always find ways to subclassify our selves, much like when we ask of alum association.
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Old 2010-05-25, 20:59   Link #45
Ledgem
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Theowne View Post
That's a very simple way of looking at it.
As we say in research, greater complexity is a greater chance of failure

Quote:
Originally Posted by Theowne View Post
When Singapore as a British trade city developed, the major migrating groups were composed heavily of migrant laborers and merchants who were looking for somewhere to work, not looking to found a new country or colony.
Bolded emphasis mine.

However we could debate the founding of various nations on a case by case basis, and we'd likely find that both of us were right at least some of the time. Instead, let me put it to you this way: back when most of those countries were forming, leaving your country for another was a long and hard endeavor. The impression that I get is that many people might have left for work, but they never expected to return home.

Compare that to today, where you could return to your home country in less than a day and for a month of a low-paying job's wages, perhaps? While we can't make a claim that everyone was the same, it would certainly be understandable to think that people back then, feeling that they would never see their home land again, would resign themselves to making the most of their new home. In America, at least, this sentiment was partly what led to the creation of the various Little China's, Little Tokyo's, Little Italy's, etc. across various cities. Why should today's immigrants care at all, when very few of them are truly stuck here and they know that they can (and plan to) eventually leave?
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Old 2010-05-25, 22:18   Link #46
Theowne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ledgem
back when most of those countries were forming, leaving your country for another was a long and hard endeavor.
Yes, that's true. But that restriction was more of a function of technology at the time, no? It's certainly true that with our modern airplanes and international standards of language or education, setting off for a new land is less daunting....but that doesn't really have much to do with the intentions of those behind the migration or demographic shifts. Unless you're not arguing that it is. In which case, carry on.

I do agree that immigration is generally too easy these days. You're right that the lack of easy movement around the world back then acted as a natural deterrent against people who weren't willing to go "all in". But with that deterrent gone, there are a lot of people taking advantage of an easy access system with no real intention of adapting to the new country, or only superficially doing so. And this isn't going to be good for the destination country in the long run.

Quote:
In America, at least, this sentiment was partly what led to the creation of the various Little China's, Little Tokyo's, Little Italy's, etc. across various cities.
I wish there was a Little Tokyo around here....

Interestingly I've heard far more negative interpretations of the sort of ethnic enclaves that you're describing, many of which use the same kind of language that was used earlier to criticize "temporary" foreigners (eg: sticking with your own, not willing to adapt). Of course, I would say most of these communities are harmless and beneficial in many ways, but I can't say the seemingly forthcoming breakdown of my own city into enclaves doesn't trouble me. But I'm just rambling....
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Old 2010-05-26, 02:37   Link #47
Jinto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ash0ka View Post
I just don't think we should forget so easily how much people used to love the Middle East, and I hope one day it can return that way. It's probably only a pipe dream because people aren't going to forget 9/11 anytime soon.
That is strange, I knew long before 9/11 that the middle east is not exactly a peaceful place. After 9/11 I did not feel much changed regarding the middle east. You know, Afghanistan/Pakistan (that is where the Taliban and Al Qaida are) are not even middle east countries. Maybe it is just your media coverage that is to blame... However, I'ld be more concerned about that actually (if I were you, and if I realized how stereotyped and vague my/my fellow citizen's view on the world is)
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Old 2010-05-26, 05:57   Link #48
Mystique
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An interesting article that popped up on BBC recently that fits into this thread quite nicely (ethnicity vs nationality).
5min video segment, but an interesting watch, the intro is here:

'Unaccustomed' debate on race sparked in Brazil
Quote:

Brazil is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world and many Brazilians pride themselves as having a society without overt evidence of racial tension, and some even deny that racism in their country exists.

But a recent move to institute affirmative action for poor blacks and address inequalities in educational opportunities has sparked an unaccustomed debate on race.

Matt Frei reports.
For me it's a bit of an eye opener cause I guess on a media front, Brazillians have this 'general' ethnicity about them, but one wouldn't be able to specify certain ethnic groups and would just be happy to classify by nationality.
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Old 2010-05-26, 08:13   Link #49
Shiemi
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Originally Posted by Mystique View Post
For me it's a bit of an eye opener cause I guess on a media front, Brazillians have this 'general' ethnicity about them, but one wouldn't be able to specify certain ethnic groups and would just be happy to classify by nationality.
The same can be said of Puerto Rico regarding the difficulty in specifying certain ethnic groups. In the U.S. Census, I always have to mark 'Other' and fill in the blank saying: Mix of European, African, and TaŪno. With my daughters it has become a bit worse as I have to add 'Japanese' to the mix.
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Old 2010-05-26, 18:53   Link #50
WanderingKnight
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Quote:
I don't understand - you bring up race in the context of a biological truth, and then claim that it's fictional. It is a biological truth. Why do you think that only Africans are afflicted with sickle cell anemia, and the Jews with Tay Sachs disease? Why are certain ethnic groups predisposed to certain health conditions over others? These are due to genetic factors that arose within confined populations.

Granted, we may be using the term "race" too liberally - we're all humans, that's true, and we can produce offspring even between different ethnic groups. Perhaps calling it "sub-races" would be more appropriate.
Sup Ledgem! Long time no see.

Okay, let me put up a question to you, since you're talking about the validity of race as a finite categorization of people -- using myself as an example (all I'm going to say from now on is completely true):

My dad was born in Argentina. His parents were born in Argentina. His dad's dad was from either Brazil or Portugal (I'm not really sure and I don't think he knows well, either, since he didn't get to meet him). I have no idea where his dad's mom was from. His mom's dad was from Spain, more specifically, from the Basque. Again, I have no idea where his mom's mom was from.

My mother, on the other hand, was born on a tiny-teeny country in the middle of nowhere called Kyrgyzstan (yes the one you could see in the news a short while ago, they had a pretty violent civil war recently). "Middle of nowhere" is short for being between Russia, China, India and the Middle East. My mom's dad was from Argentina, and his surname comes from Spain. My mom's mom, on the other hand, was from Kyrgyzstan, and her surname was Jewish (Rajim if you're curious). However, like a lot of people in Kyrgyzstan, she had a very particular mix of features: slanted eyes, slightly darkish skin more akin to a Middle Eastern than anything looking Russian, and red hair. Did I mention a complete lack of the strong facial features (high cheekbones, etc) usually displayed by people from East Asia?

Now, the big question is: What race am I? I have just described you in full detail my biological background. Anyone who sees me on the street will probably think I'm Caucasian since my skin is white, but my dad and his dad have a darker tone more akin to the stereotypical "latino" depiction (though they lack a lot of other features from those depictions). But biologically speaking -- I'm a mixture of a lot of really different stuff. My grandmother (from my mom's side) was a Chinese-eyed, dark-skinned, red-haired Jew. What am I?

(and that's not even beginning to mention the fact that Spain and Portugal have had a lot of mixture with Arabic people).

By the way, please understand that I'm not denying the validity of genetics and the biological makeup of people -- what I'm attacking is the concept of race as a discrete set used to categorize people.
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Old 2010-05-26, 19:35   Link #51
Ledgem
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Originally Posted by Theowne View Post
Yes, that's true. But that restriction was more of a function of technology at the time, no? It's certainly true that with our modern airplanes and international standards of language or education, setting off for a new land is less daunting....but that doesn't really have much to do with the intentions of those behind the migration or demographic shifts. Unless you're not arguing that it is. In which case, carry on.
Correct - what I said has nothing to do with what the original intent of immigrants was. I would agree with you that the original reason for immigration was likely the same then as it is now. Which leads to what you wrote next:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Theowne View Post
I do agree that immigration is generally too easy these days. You're right that the lack of easy movement around the world back then acted as a natural deterrent against people who weren't willing to go "all in". But with that deterrent gone, there are a lot of people taking advantage of an easy access system with no real intention of adapting to the new country, or only superficially doing so. And this isn't going to be good for the destination country in the long run.
That was more or less the point I was making. Not all immigrants left their country with the intent of founding a new country, but since they were largely stuck there the dynamics were completely different. In America, at least, emigrants came here for better job and lifestyle opportunities, and then often had their families come once they had established themselves. They weren't always accepting of their new culture (which is evident from the development of ethnically-based communities) but they were forced to adopt this as their home, and their lineage was gradually assimilated. Today it's completely different - it's very superficial, to use your description.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Theowne View Post
Interestingly I've heard far more negative interpretations of the sort of ethnic enclaves that you're describing, many of which use the same kind of language that was used earlier to criticize "temporary" foreigners (eg: sticking with your own, not willing to adapt). Of course, I would say most of these communities are harmless and beneficial in many ways, but I can't say the seemingly forthcoming breakdown of my own city into enclaves doesn't trouble me. But I'm just rambling....
You're correct, those communities were not well-received. Yet by comparison, I'd say that they would be better-received than people who come to a country, make zero effort to learn anything about it or assimilate (and perhaps worse, profess hostility to it), and just make some money before returning to their home country.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WanderingKnight View Post
Sup Ledgem! Long time no see.
Indeed, indeed. I hear you've been busy with work. I'll have to pay a visit to your profile and leave a message.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WanderingKnight View Post
Okay, let me put up a question to you, since you're talking about the validity of race as a finite categorization of people -- using myself as an example (all I'm going to say from now on is completely true):
...
Now, the big question is: What race am I?
...
By the way, please understand that I'm not denying the validity of genetics and the biological makeup of people -- what I'm attacking is the concept of race as a discrete set used to categorize people.
The answer is that you're the beginning of a new "race."

There are a few methods in genetics that can be used to classify people by race lineage. A fairly common one involves looking for regions in the DNA that are relatively well-conserved (I can't remember whether the example I'm thinking of was satellite DNA, SNPs, or SnRNPs - I can reference my genetics notes if you're interested). The DNA "fingerprint" generated by these sequences is extremely similar for people from a similar ethnic group, yet extremely different in people from one ethnic group to the next. Interestingly, this method has been used in an effort to trace human migration, as you can find more of a gradual shift in differences between ethnic groups that are more closely related (where one came from the other, particularly if it's more recent in history).

That's genetics. It has applications to the field of medicine because, as I mentioned before, certain ethnic groups are more prone to certain diseases than others, certain ethnic groups may be more or less sensitive to certain drugs than others, and certain ethnic groups may have diseases that are completely unique to them. At the current rate of global mixing, classifying people according to genetics will likely fall apart over the next hundred to two hundred years (my estimate) due to the existence of people like you, and like my future children: people are no longer stratified according to geography, and more recently people are less restricted in terms of dating outside of their culture.

So, at this moment in time at least, the concept of race by genetics is valid. It likely will not be in the future (unless we spread to Mars and have difficulty getting back and forth - then over a long stretch of time you would be able to tell whether a person came from Earth or from Mars based on the genetic methods that I described).

Of course, when we see someone on the street we don't see their genetic fingerprint - not at the resolution that genetic analysis affords, anyway (you arguably do see some based on key physical features, even if subtle, that are currently limited to certain ethnic groups). We see their physical appearance and we see the way that they move and behave. We categorize people based on culture (country of origin) and appearance (very loosely genetics). These are very crude methods of categorization.

But now I'm rambling, and I believe that I answered your question two paragraphs up: when mixing of people across geography and across cultures was very limited, we were able to categorize people based on appearance, culture, and genetics. These were relatively stable populations that weren't incorporating external elements. In the modern world we don't have that stability - or rather, the barriers have been widened considerably. We can still classify (most) people according to genetics today, but that's only because genetic drift occurs much more slowly than culture. In the future it's likely that our present "races" will be deconstructed, and depending on trends of mixing, a few new ones may form.
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Old 2010-05-27, 17:17   Link #52
hungarianrhapsody
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it should also be said that the existence of mixes of certain categories doesn't invalidate the concept of those categories. Sorry for the crude analogy, but if I mix a lot of different flavors of soft drinks into one, that doesn't invalidate the valid classification of those soft drinks before that.

A good description of "race" that I have heard is that it is a broader concept of a family tree. Your immediate family is your first "race" . You share more genetic similarities with your family than others. If I go back even further, i could have a family tree called "Teochew people". Even further, I would have "Han Chinese". Even further,I'd get "East Asian", and then "Asian". And then, "human".

Broad race classifications like "white", "black", as we think of them nowadays aren't very helpful. But the human race can indeed be broken down like a tree into subgroups who are like extended families in terms of resemblance. and similarities within these "families" do exist (japanese tend to be short, finnish people tend to have blue eyes, etc). I don't think there's much sense in just dismissing them all.
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Old 2010-05-27, 19:41   Link #53
yoropa
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WanderingKnight View Post
*snip*
We have a term called "mixed race." You are that.
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