Steampunk Hands Around the World


If you follow me on twitter (@Nimue_B) you’ll have seen me using  #steampunkhands  in the last few weeks and sharing content from international Steampunks.  There’s a facebook group here  with more information. Steampunk Hands Around the World, is pretty much as it sounds, a month of sharing content, ideas and creativity with a view to reaching out around the globe and making connections. Lots of information on this website, too.


Steampunk is all too often accused of being some covert program for racism and colonialism. One of the things Steampunk Hands is demonstrating, is that Steampunks are everywhere, in all kinds of cultures and drawing on an incredible diversity of history and imagery. Once you get into Steampunk, it becomes apparent that there is much more subversion going on that re-enactment. We owe more to the many subcultures of the period than to mainstream Victorian era colonialism, patriarchy, oppression or prejudice. Those period subcultures were amazing, and still incredibly relevant and resonant.


How to participate in this project? I wanted to do something that tapped into the international flavour and the sense of glorious exotic otherness (we are all that to each other), without falling into the traps of accidental racism or cultural appropriation. I am, after all, a pale skinned, dark haired woman of Northern European ancestry. This is an ongoing issue for me in all my work – the desire to include, balanced against the desire not to inadvertently appropriate or patronise. It’s a bit of a tightrope to walk.


I wrote a piece, working with one of the characters from Hopeless Maine. Balthazar Lemon, who features in volume 2, is a man of uncertain origins. That gave me a space to talk about the very idea of ‘where we come from’ and to reflect on the relationship between identity and perceptions, culture and place of origin, how we fit and do not fit, where we assume the right to belong, and where we do not. These are not issues that belong to a specific race or culture. No matter how inside, or outside we feel, how rooted or unsettled, how much we want to belong or want to escape, the way we make our origins part of ourselves, is an issue. The way we look at other people and make stories about what their origin and culture means.


In the Druid community this can mean we consider those who are ethnically Welsh and Irish to be more authentic. Across Paganism, we tend to romanticise the presence of Native American genetic heritage. Around the world, many people are grappling with the issues of how to take intrinsically European Pagan ideas, rooted in seasons that do not exist everywhere, and persuade that to make sense some other place. Who we are and where we come from… it has a lot of implications.


And now, a small audio clip, voiced by Tom Brown.

Steampunk audio

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

7 responses to “Steampunk Hands Around the World

  • Christopher Blackwell

    Balthazar Lemon seems quite sensible to me. But then I don’t fit as well and never have and never will. I look from the outside of society and stay out of it most of the times as it does not seem to be a very happy place and I would much prefer to laugh a lot and do silly and meaningless things. The only times that I get not in trouble is when I attempt to fit in. When I give up such foolishness I do much better.

    Today I had a rock club from Los Alamos, the place where all our atomic things start out. All of them either scientists or engineers. An odd lot but I felt quite comfortable around them even though I am quite at odds with what they do. But they are odd enough to be enjoyable to me. They are rather smarter with me, but they are curious about things, so find me interesting.

  • ohnwentsya

    Reblogged this on Spirit In Action and commented:
    Thank for posting this! Having recently read a post on the ArchDruid Report referencing steampunk re our post peak oil descent and retooling I became more curious about it. I have read various steaming stories and such but this other aspect attracts my interest much more-but I wasn’t sure how to pursue it. I love the way the Universe answers prayers I wasn’t even clear minded enough to articulate!
    I really appreciate your breakdown of the issues of race and rootedness we all face. As a mixed race person who grew up in a very “Southern” (ie KKK, racist etc) small town with fragments of family traditions of spirituality from multiple nations I’ve been trying to sort that out my whole life. For me I’ve found that if people are rooted in and starting from respect and caring for one another it all works out well.
    Musicians have always gotten together and shared across cultures and they are usually having a great time with one another-that is my ideal:-)

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