asmodeus

Symbiosis - The Ecology of Roshar, and why SA might not be a story about Colonialism

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That was a great read, and in retrospect it's strange that I never thought of the Rosharan humans as an invasive species on Roshar's ecology. I would note however, that being an invasive species doesn't preclude one from being colonists.

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29 minutes ago, Honorless said:

That was a great read, and in retrospect it's strange that I never thought of the Rosharan humans as an invasive species on Roshar's ecology. I would note however, that being an invasive species doesn't preclude one from being colonists.

Colonialism was about getting reasorces for the motherland. There is no motherland anymore.

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2 minutes ago, Frustration said:

Colonialism was about getting reasorces for the motherland. There is no motherland anymore.

Depends on whether or not you only consider Asian and African colonialism or would you also consider American and Australian colonialism

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2 minutes ago, Honorless said:

Depends on whether or not you only consider Asian and African colonialism or would you also consider American and Australian colonialism

Why where the American colonies not allowed to manufacture anything? Brittan wanted the reasorces. Putting people there was more of a social movement than a political one. And Australia was... I don't know I never studied that beyond it being a prison.

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Humans fled to Roshar from Ashyn, another planet in the Rosharan system.[45] They had destroyed the planet using what Honor implied to be the dawnshards.[53] Honor and Cultivation commanded the singers to take the humans in despite the forbidden powers they had relating to spren and Surges[52][54], and they were given Shinovar to live in since Shinovar could support the plants and animals they brought.[53] With the humans came Odium.[55] The humans, possibly with Odium's influence, grew dissatisfied with what they were given. The conflict between the invading humans and the singers living on Roshar became the First Desolation.[56]

This is what I found on coppermind.net

It sounds like humans were more like refugees, at least at first, than invaders. It was Honor and Cultivation who forced humanity on the Singers and then Odium encouraged the conflict between humanity and the Singers.

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1 hour ago, Frustration said:

Why where the American colonies not allowed to manufacture anything? Brittan wanted the reasorces. Putting people there was more of a social movement than a political one. And Australia was... I don't know I never studied that beyond it being a prison.

Your point? 

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5 hours ago, Frustration said:

Colonialism was about getting reasorces for the motherland. There is no motherland anymore.

That might be true, but IMO saying that colonialism is a theme of SA is still appropriate. The relevant aspect of colonialism is the conflict it heralds between the natives and the colonists. The economics of colonialism are not the focus of SA, and since I can’t think of a better term (invasive species doesn’t really cover the human aspect of it), I would call colonialism a focus of the series. 

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22 hours ago, Honorless said:

That was a great read, and in retrospect it's strange that I never thought of the Rosharan humans as an invasive species on Roshar's ecology.

I found the idea to be pretty cool, but I'm not sure how to present it all that well. Hence this mess of a post :unsure:

22 hours ago, Honorless said:

That was a great read, and in retrospect it's strange that I never thought of the Rosharan humans as an invasive species on Roshar's ecology. I would note however, that being an invasive species doesn't preclude one from being colonists.

22 hours ago, Honorless said:

Depends on whether or not you only consider Asian and African colonialism or would you also consider American and Australian colonialism

From what I can find, every form of Colonialism - and there can be a lot of different kinds, apparently - involves the interest of "some other place" to be involved and be a driving force in things, even for internal colonialism inside one state. So... I'd love to see an argument of someone trying to explore this from a colonial perspective.

16 hours ago, ILuvHats said:

That might be true, but IMO saying that colonialism is a theme of SA is still appropriate. The relevant aspect of colonialism is the conflict it heralds between the natives and the colonists. The economics of colonialism are not the focus of SA, and since I can’t think of a better term (invasive species doesn’t really cover the human aspect of it), I would call colonialism a focus of the series. 

Uhmm... okay, I edited the post to address some of this, but no, very little - if anything at all - in Roshar's history fits what you would call colonialism. It really doesn't. Colonialism is a specific thing, and economics are a central, driving aspect of it. Heck, if you really want to generalise economics into any kind of interest of a "distant" state, it _still_ doesn't fit what happened on Roshar, because there isn't any such "distant state" that could really fit.

Now... can colonial factors have come into play later? Maybe. But again, there's not much in the history of Roshar where you can clearly establish the same kinds of colonial forces that were prevalent in our history, forces that we use to define Colonialism.

We do have some "signs" that make people think that - slavery of Parshmen is a big one of those. In our world slavery is often tied to kinds of Colonialism, so it makes sense for people to see it and think Colonialism. But Roshar got to that stage in a very different way than we did. It's likely that the Radiants knew about some of what the Heralds had done (because of their close ties to spren and even Honor, and also Nale, a Herald, was literally a Skybreaker). If the Radiants were already planning a Recreance, fixing the Parsh, even if they could fix the Parsh, would have been an open question, given there would be no-one to watch over the Human race when those same Parsh were taken over / indoctrinated by the Fused the next time a desolation rolled over, without the Radiants and the Heralds. They would not know of the Everstorm and it's Parsh-fixing capability.

So the enslavement of the Parsh would have come about through a very different sequence of events, driven by very different forces.

Similarly, humanity didn't come to dominate Roshar wanting to exploit the Parsh or have any other sort of interest in greater Roshar - by all accounts, the Fused nearly wiped out humanity first (though, granted, we don't know how the souls that became the Fused died the first time over, but even that is a very small conflict, taking place in a segment of time that is nothing, compared to the vast history of Roshar), and then again every desolation. At that point, distrust of the Parsh as a species is justified (or at least, knowing what we know of Human nature, understandable), given that any living Singer could be sacrificed and taken over by the Fused. And then, when the desolations roll over, it's not like they had much guidance. Even less so after the earlier desolations, when even the Radiants weren't around.

So... yeah. the history of Roshar has more elements in common with a species being introduced to a new ecology, and becoming an invasive species and coming to dominate that new ecology, maybe even drastically changing it, over time. At least, more in common with that narrative than with the traditional Colonial narrative.

Edited by asmodeus
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17 hours ago, ILuvHats said:

That might be true, but IMO saying that colonialism is a theme of SA is still appropriate. The relevant aspect of colonialism is the conflict it heralds between the natives and the colonists. The economics of colonialism are not the focus of SA, and since I can’t think of a better term (invasive species doesn’t really cover the human aspect of it), I would call colonialism a focus of the series. 

You can't take the economic aspect out of an economic ideology and call it the same thing.

What happened way back when on Roashar is exactly what has happened everywhere on earth at every time, one nation conquering another, this is Alexander the Great against Persia, Ceazar against Gual.

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41 minutes ago, Frustration said:

 

What happened way back when on Roashar is exactly what has happened everywhere on earth at every time, one nation conquering another, this is Alexander the Great against Persia, Ceazar against Gual.

I think is more like Goths conquer Italy. Those people was forced to abandoned their homes by some force (in this case by other tribe- Huns) and first were refugees inside other country, but after that they used weakness of previos country and take over.

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So, really, the colonialist aspect of the story isn't the humans coming from Ashyn- at that point they were refugees. The colonialist bit is the human spreading beyond Shinovar, and eventually enslaving the Singers. 

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2 hours ago, Gilphon said:

So, really, the colonialist aspect of the story isn't the humans coming from Ashyn- at that point they were refugees. The colonialist bit is the human spreading beyond Shinovar, and eventually enslaving the Singers. 

Why that happened is unclear,

And enslavement was 2,000 years later, and completely unintentional.

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It is noteworthy that the listeners talk about the ancient betrayal of the spren.  Possibly this was about more then just surgebinding.

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Honestly though, my stance is that this is a good theory with some (much shakier) quibbling about the definition of colonialism tacked on and distracting from the actual meat of the theory. Like this is the first time I've seen somebody come up with a plausible reason for the spren to prefer humans to singers, and explanation for why the spren were said to have betrayed the singers. 

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Something else to consider: humans breed exponentially. We don’t see large Parsh families, not even among the slave population, where you would expect it. On the other hand, three to seven surviving children were about average for pre-industrial women. With Rosharan people being more likely to survive childbirth, and traditional childhood illnesses being non-existent, we’re talking seven to thirteen surviving offspring per family - at least until they realized that they didn’t need so many pregnancies to ensure survival.
 

Within a handful of generations Shinovar was no longer capable of sustaining the human population. So they left due to lack of resources... and covered the rest of Roshar.

 

Invasive species is a great metaphor.

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So, I wonder.

Humans are less an invasive predator, as is normally associated with invasive species, and more an invasive food source, particularly for emotionspren and some of the odder, less easy to classify spren like musicspren or creationspren. I've also suspected for some time that the advent of humans caused non-Odious but still new kinds of spren to appear. Would humans, being able to draw any kind of spren at pretty much any given moment, based only on mood, be drawing spren from across Roshar in a sort of migratory way, making it harder for singers to change forms when they wanted? Possibly. Hadn't thought about it. Seems like a cool theory.

I agree that Stormlight isn't really colonial literature in the sense that humanity weren't really colonists so much as refugees. I have, however, seen it compellingly argued that Stormlight is excellent post-colonial literature, without having a true colonial history. It deals with a lot of the same problems as post-colonialism, only the problems are caused by a source other than actual colonialism. 

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