Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The World's a Melting Pot - the falsity of racial constructs in pictures

Mongolia, like Siberia live in my mind as mysterious, harsh, desolate places. We watched a travel documentary the other night that sparked my imagination and opened that travel bug within me.

The show followed two Canadian guys through Mongolia. Apart from the gorgeous scenery and stark solitude of it’s expanse, I was intrigued the most by it’s people.

I have always been interested in the peoples of the world – what they look like, what they do, where they come from.

Mongolia on a map is a largely empty area between China and Russia, and not surprisingly the people look vary Asian but also with Russian or Causasian features. Some are blond and blue eyed. They defied my preconceived notions.

This got me thinking about race as a concept and how the world is held together, but apart, by defining places and people within a racial framework. We assume that people from a certain part of the world will look a certain way, and we make sweeping judgments. Ultimately we separate ourselves based on these assumptions.

All of this rekindled my passion for learning more about people. I started scouring the net about groups of people that defy our preconceived ideas. People that prove race is a box we need to see beyond. I discovered that due to human migration patterns, genetics and various mutations, people around the world exhibit far more similarities than we imagined.

Many sites discuss these topics, and include photos of people that surprised me and intrigued me further. I decided to gather some of the photos to share.
Maybe we can all learn something about our connectedness through the innocent eyes of the children:







These are photos from the Hmong peoples in Laos and the Uyghur peoples in China:










These next pictures are of kids from Pakistan, Afghanistan and India from groups like the Nuristanis, Kalash, Kashmir, Kurghan, Rajasthan (very interesting to read about these groups of people!):























So who are the redheads of the world? Who has green eyes or blonde hair? The existence of these diverse characteristics across continents and geographies should show us how alike we really are, how some of us moved west, some north etc., but we left the DNA markers to remind ourselves that the boundaries we create now are a facade. Just look at the children's faces - it's in their eyes that we all are one :)
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21 comments:

Judith Mercado said...

The blending of cultural and racial boundaries is a recurring theme discussed in my blog Pilgrim Soul. I so love that this is happening worldwide.

www.judithmercadoauthor.blogspot.com

deb said...

Brilliant.
My husband and I have discussed this. His family is from the mid regions of Italy, all dark haired and skinned, but there is red hair scattered throughout his Mother's side. I have red hair, a typical Canadian of Scottish /Irish descent. I 'd like to think that at some point one of my distant wandering relatives fell madly in love with one of his.
Which would sort of make us related... but you know what I mean.:)

and these pictures are riveting and absolutely beautiful. Each and every one . Thank you for sharing this.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting what people say before they know my heritage is from Mexico. I'm not what they expect Mexicans to look like. But, it has always irked me that one of the questions people always ask me is 'where are you from' (I guess I just have features they can't put into one neat little box) What difference does it make?

The pale observer said...

Judith - sounds so interesting, I'm on my way over to your site! Thanks for posting.

Deb - I think the more people's stories we hear, the more we realize these similarities. I like your romantic notion about your distant relatives of the past!

I have a Jordanian friend who being from an Arabic country fits the 'stereotypical' colouring - dark hair, eyes, olive skin - but she has a son with a shock of bright red hair and freckles. It turns out her father has this colouring as well. Apparently the original 'Caucasians' migrated from Russia down into the Middle East at one stage and there are definitely genetic markers left there :)

Dear Mexican friend - I can understand your frustration as I get the same question always. I am of British heritage but am always asked what my 'mix' is, because I have very dark colouring and high cheekbones... I think people crave the comfort of being able to identify everyone and place them in a box in their minds...
That's why I wanted to show in this post that it's not so easy to do that!!!

Travel & Dive Girl said...

Beautiful post and beautiful photos. I too have always been intrigued by cultures and how they've gotten to where they are now.

Anonymous said...

Holli, are you sure you don't have any First Nation tribal connection? Btw you are beautiful the way you are. As a biracial family this is not new to me at all. Thankfully I have had the opportunity to associate with people from almost all corners of the world including mongolians and their ladies are gorgious too!

Janet said...

After 6 weeks of meeting people of all races, cultures, combinations, etc. etc. all loving soccer fever, I'm surprised the world is not a much happier place.

Sometimes it's a pity we have to come from somewhere and have be pigeonholed.

Some superb photos here

mollycorinne said...

What a wonderful and timely post! I'm working on my Masters in Teaching, and today in Multicultural Ed. we engaged in an extensive discussion about racial social constructs. Your post illuminated much of what we discussed.
Beautiful photos too.

Miss Footloose said...

Holli, what a fantastic, interesting post!

When I lived in Palestine, on the West Bank, I noticed Palestinians with blue eyes and blond hair. Not surprising really, because it's due to recent intermarriages. Palestinians are mobile folks.

Except for the ones in Gaza, where people have been very isolated for centuries and intermarriage is rare, yet there are kids running around with blue eyes and blond hair. I was told these genes -- believe it or not -- were left by the Crusaders in the 11-12th (?) century. Probably not in the most loving way.

Great photos!

Ya said...

Hello,

I tried to find an email for you but I couldnt so, I will place this comment here. Sorry it wont exactly fit in with the story!

Im a young filmmaker and I will be coming to Ghana in September and I have read some very interesting things on your blog. Would be good to talk to you a bit more about it. I wont clog up your page too much. If possible give me an email back, yabastamedia@gmail.com

Thank you!

Dan

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Little Seed said...

Gorgeous! We all share roots on the tree of life.

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Anonymous said...

As a Hmong, I have seen many blond hair Hmong here in the US, but it still amazes me every time when I see another blond hair Hmong.

I guess I will always be amaze until I find out the truth of our history!

Ginger said...

what an eye opener...about stereotyping people based on their looks. Thanks for sharing..

Dr. Haze said...

"Just look at the children's faces - it's in their eyes that we all are one :)"


Dear Blogger,

just don't forget that those children are pure exceptions. The hair usually becomes darker while getting older.
Furthermore, they don't represent the majority in their countries, at not even 1 %.
Remember that ONLY 2 % of the world's population is blonde!

Chadlrlt said...

Hello, I tried to find an email for you but I couldnt so, I will place this comment here. Sorry it wont exactly fit in with the story! Im a young filmmaker and I will be coming to Ghana in September and I have read some very interesting things on your blog. Would be good to talk to you a bit more about it. I wont clog up your page too much. If possible give me an email back, yabastamedia@gmail.com Thank you! Dan

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Phitar said...

Interesting post but you should link back to the original photos instead of copying them locally.

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