Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Harry Potter and Diversity

In recent years, the United States has experienced a huge wave of immigration which has transformed the nation’s demography.  At the same time, many European countries have undergone a similar transformation, including Great Britain.  Western Europe experienced a significant labor shortage after World War II and welcomed “guest workers” from North Africa and Asia.  Many people from India, Pakistan, and other former British colonies emigrated to Great Britain.  These “guests” and their families stayed and have become part of the fabric of these countries.   I have been to London twice in the last ten years and it feels a lot like New York City with a tremendous diversity of cultures.
The “Potter” books and films reflect this phenomenon.  Though none of the main characters come from minority groups, a number of supporting characters do.  Perhaps the most important was Cho Chan, Harry’s first crush.  Ron and Harry went to a school dance in Goblet of Fire with the Patel twins.
Other British sci-fi products have reflected this change.  For instance, the new “Doctor Who”, which has featured a couple of black cast members, has had a much more diverse feel than the original program, which aired from the 1960s-1980s. 

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