accio worldbuilding project
January 25, 2014 4:45 PM   Subscribe

I'm working on a worldbuilding project set in the Harry Potter universe that incorporates Bengali culture and history. What can I do and what resources can I consult to make this project awesome? (Mild spoiler for Pottermore inside.)

I've been interested in the worldbuilding aspect of the Harry Potter verse since I started reading the books, and just found the perfect in about a week ago when I played with Pottermore and saw that J.K.Rowling had included my actual last name, Shafiq, into a list of pureblood families.

I got inspired to start a writing project to give some backstory on the Shafiqs,starting with the fact that South Asian and Arabic names tend to work differently than Western names (I made Shafiq more of a hereditary title). The project is written from the point of view of a modern day descendent who's just discovered this list and is starting to learn about her history.

My family is Bangladeshi, so I'm using Bengali culture and history as my base; however, I know not much.about it, so it's as much a research project for me as it is for my protagonist. Indeed, part of this project is somewhat autobiographical - besides uncovering elements of Bengali magic culture, she's also grappling with feeling culturally transient and not belonging anywhere.

So far I'm getting support from my mum, who is also a Harry Potter fan and is pretty tickled about this whole thing, but I could use some help elsewhere too. I've been seeing a lot of HP worldbuilding on Tumblr and have been riffing off that, but information on Bengali mythology and folklore is thin on the ground.

* What are some good resources on Bengali folklore and mythology, particularly anything written in English (since I can't read Bengali)?
* What other blogs, Tumblrs, etc are doing great work on HP worldbuilding? I was inspired by Lives and Lies of Wizards and found a couple of others, but a lot of them are centered on Hogwarts or Marauders era and I'd love to find stuff that's international, contemporary, post-Hogwarts.
* Where does the HP fandom hang out nowadays? I haven't been active in fandom for a while and want to find readers and feedback, but my cursory look seems like it's all cliqueish now.
* Where can I find good photos or art of South Asians that aren't just them in ethnic dress for a fashion spread?
* I anticipate that as I build this Shafiqverse further I'll end up retconning things. How do you best address retconning in a fan piece like this?
posted by divabat to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I wish I could answer more of your questions, but all I can do is recommend some other work about foreign magic schools. The Alexandra Quick series does a really good job fleshing out an American wizarding world. And Marissa and the Wizards does a pretty good job for Brazil. I've also read a couple of Snape centric things that postulate that he has Egyptian ancestry and go into some detail about the wizarding culture of Alexandria, but I can't think of titles offhand.

I would love to see this if you end up getting into it, sounds right up my alley. Memail me if you're looking for a beta :)
posted by town of cats at 8:17 PM on January 25, 2014

resources on Bengali folklore and mythology

A Twist in the Tale: More Indian Folktales by Aditi De has some Bengali stories in it.
The Demon-Slayers and other stories: Bengali Folk Tales
Folk Tales of Bengal

One thing though - these are folk tales from Bengal, which covers West Bengal in India as well as Bangladesh. I can't think of any Bangladesh-specific folk tale collections off top of head. One difference is that Bangladesh is a Muslim-majority country, and in my experience there are many beliefs, stories etc revolving around the djinn, but I can't think of any online resources for this. (Sorry.)

photos or art of South Asians that aren't just them in ethnic dress is a HUGE personal favourite :) - some good people-shots amid all the landscape - this one is very good for contemporary people-shots
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:24 AM on January 26, 2014

I think reaching out to the Carl Brandon Society might be a good start -- Mary Anne Mohanraj is pretty active on FB, and even tho she's of Sri Lankan descent, she seems pretty tapped into a larger Desi SF/F lit scene.
posted by spunweb at 1:32 PM on January 26, 2014

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