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Old December 23 2013, 03:19 PM   #4
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Re: Issues with current Enterprise E Bridge/senior officer staff

Jarvisimo wrote: View Post
Choudhory was good, especially in Destiny and I think Losing the Peace, but I must admit I was spoiled on her death so I don't know how I felt at that sudden execution. I think she was a stronger character than Šmrhová has been to date - but this may be because of the orientalism and distinguishing religious practices that subsumed/defined her character? I don't know.
The last thing I had in mind when developing Choudhury's character was "Orientalism." Orientalism means treating non-Western cultures as exotic, exaggerated Others, strange or sensual or barbaric or mystical but never in any way normative, always "them" rather than "us." Vina's Orion dance was Orientalism. The "Space Mongol" Klingons of TOS, the Capellans in "Friday's Child," the Argelians in "Wolf in the Fold," even the Ligonians in "Code of Honor" were stock Orientalist stereotypes thinly disguised as aliens. Jasminder Choudhury was, at least in my intentions, a fully realized character who was one of "us." I tried to give her a non-Western viewpoint to compensate for the perennial America-centrism of the Trek universe, but certainly not an Orientalist stereotype of one. On the contrary, Choudhury's faith was an informed, cosmopolitan one that was largely grounded in Hinduism but, like the teachings of Swami Vivekananda, was highly inclusive, open to ideas from faiths and philosophies originating throughout the known galaxy.

And to me, the most important part of her character wasn't that she was spiritual, but that she was a security officer who defied the Worf/Yar/Corsi stereotype by being more a peacekeeper than a fighter. I've long felt it makes no sense for security chiefs to be portrayed as "warriors," since their job is ideally to prevent violence from occurring in the first place. I thought it would be more interesting, and more realistic, to write a security chief who was skilled at defusing and preventing conflict rather than just waging it. To take more a "hostage negotiator" approach to the character, as it were. (Like Enrico Colantoni's character on Flashpoint, say, although I hadn't started watching that show when I developed Choudhury's personality.) If her Hindu cultural heritage dovetailed with that, that simply made sense, and it supported my primary goal for the character rather than being my primary goal. (Although unfortunately the growing emphasis of subsequent novels on war and espionage and conflict left few opportunities for the kind of work I wanted to see Jasminder doing.)

And I wouldn't say anyone else who wrote her did so in an "Orientalist" way. Dave and Dayton didn't focus much on her cultural heritage at all, whereas Bill Leisner did a great, multifaceted job with it in Losing the Peace.

And yes there are all those other characters who are just names and occasional traits & moments. Hegol Den, Elfiki, the Vulkan engineer from Lower Decks, etc.
Dina Elfiki's largest role to date is probably in DTI: Watching the Clock.
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