Orcs, Britons, and the Martial Race Myth, Part II: They're Not Human

This is the complement to my previous article, “Orcs, Britons, and the Martial Race Myth, Part I: A Species Built for Racial Terror.” In the previous article, we learned how racist myths from the British academy and army fueled JRR Tolkien’s creation of orcs as an analogue for Asian people. Today I want to look at what happens to orcs as we follow Lord of the Rings’s influence into modern media. When Dungeons & Dragons and its descendants introduced orcs to the United States of America, orcs gained new ethnic dimensions and encountered new and visceral depths of criminalization and dehumanization. In the conclusion to this piece, I suggest several new directions in which gamers of all ethnicities might take the orcs they design or play, to rework this symbol of racist degeneracy into the vanguard of decolonization.

Read More