Episode 19: What's so bad about cultural appropriation?

Our guest in this episode, Jaymee Goh, in her steampunk splendor. Photo by    Lex Machina   .

Our guest in this episode, Jaymee Goh, in her steampunk splendor. Photo by Lex Machina.

This holiday season, let's add everyone's biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Or hey--let's not! In this episode, we talk with scholar and editor Jaymee Goh, whose doctoral research focused on cultural appropriation and steampunk. She tells us what cultural appropriation is, and why it's become a source of political debate in fantasy and science fiction. Also: we discuss that one terrible scene in Back to the Future. You know the one.

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Works, creators, and things cited:

Jaymee Goh (Twitter | Ko-fi)

Silver Goggles (Jaymee Goh’s blog about steampunk)


Pocahontas (Disney movie)

Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media by Ella Shohat and Robert Stam

Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett

Tangled (Disney movie)

Coco (Disney-Pixar movie)

Borrowed Power: Essays on Cultural Appropriation (ed. Bruce Ziff and Pratima V. Rao)

Back to the Future (1985 movie)

Race and Popular Fantasy Literature: Habits of Whiteness by Helen Young

Star Trek: The Next Generation, “Q Who”

Baju Kurung (traditional Malay clothing)

Speaker Sex and Perceived Apportionment of Talk (study) by Anne Cutler and Donia R. Scott, Cambridge University

Racism and Science Fiction,” essay by Samuel R. Delany (NYRSF)

Beyond Victoriana: A Multicultural Perspective on Steampunk

The Sea Is Ours: Tales from Steampunk Southeast Asia (edited by Jaymee Goh and Joyce Chng)

Mandrake the Magician (comic strip)

Mandrake the Magician (film serial)

Evidence of an early projectile point technology in North America at the Gault Site, Texas, USA (study) by Thomas J. Williams et al.

Annalee Newitz