Thursday, 2 February 2006

Cultural Meaning and Meaninglessness

Your data suggest a moderate automatic identification with Asian compared to White.

That was the reply I got from the Project Implicit test to see if I identified more strongly with "Asian" or "White".

The trouble is, that in my view, these two aren't orthogonal. Oh I know it's supposed to be about the great bugaboo of US society, "Race".


But I see "Asian" as being a geographical, rather than cultural (and certainly not racial) category. "White" is just a colour, like "Cerise", or "Duck-Egg Blue".

I Identify as Asian because Australia is the bit that's stuck at the SE corner of Asia, the way that the UK is the bit in the NW of Europe. I'm more likely to know people called "Nguyen" than I am "Miller", for example, because "Nguyen" is such a very common Vietnamese name, whereas "Miller" is nowhere near as common as "Smith" or even "Jones", alas.

"White"? No, somatically I'm caucasian. No-one who's been exposed to the Australian sun is "white", cauucasians are all various shades of light brown-pink. I just don't see the big deal here.

Now in Thailand, I'm a Farang, short for Farang-say, Francais, French. As are all people with big noses and round eyes. It's not a term of opporobrium, just a shorthand form for people who aren't the normal run-of-the-mill Thai, Khmer, Hmong, Mao, Karen, Burmese, or any of the other racial groups found in that very diverse, polyglot and multicultural society.

As for the questions about "The country needs a strong leader to get us out of this mess" Puh Leez. I mean, I identify as "moderately conservative", not "Fascist Jack-booted".

The test says far more about the prejudices and unspoken assumptions about the tester, than the subjects.

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