Goga Ethnographical Questionnaire

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Dr. Zahir’s Ethnographical Questionnaire was compiled by David Zahir to help in the description of concultures, and can be found in the files section of the Conculture group at Yahoo.


Questions of Place

Describe the geography of where your society calls home.

From their home city of Neripi, the Khul people claim 97% of the territory on planet Teppala, but only have settled about 10% . Even of this, control is very weak outside the coastal strip from around 35N to 46N and 5W to 14E. This page is intended to deal with the people who live in the five coastal nations, but because they have spread themselvse throughout the empire as explroers, some info deals with the other parts of the empire as well. I will call this Goga for now (Khulls for "core") but will almost certainly change the name later on. This was a name that was actually used by the natives at some point, but was primarily intended to distinguish them politically from the much poorer areas of the empire rather than being a cultural designation.

Like Pusapom, Goga (and hte Khulls empire in general) is an interspecies society in which humans are just one of many civilizations sharing the territory. However, unlike Pusapom, interspecies contact is limited, so humans mostly live with humans and don't even see the firebirds, hedgehogs, wolves, and bears with whom they share their power on a daily basis. Part of the reason for this is because whereas Pusapom (or at least its capital, Blop) is in the nexus of the natural habitats of many different animals, Goga has a distinct series of biomes where the natural habitats of the animals dont overlap much. Apart from humans, who are adaptable to nearly everything, much of the territory of the Goga empire is uninhabitable for the other sapient species. E.g. firebirds can't deal with temperatures above 70F, yet there are areas of Goga where it is over 100F almost every day. Hedgehogs are able to survive in most climates where humans live but generally avoid the coastal areas.

There are also dolphins, but they (obviously) do not come on land very often.

Describe the climate your society deals with. How severe are their seasons?

The climate of the Goga Coastal Strip is much warmer than Poswob locations at similar latitudes. Average winter temperatures range from about 38F at the northern extremity to 55F at the southwestern border with Tšabas (called "Wamia" below), and summer temperatures range from about 51F to 65F respectively. Some offshore islands never see snow even though they are at 40N-45N, the same latitudes that are frozen even in summer further east. Moreover, like the US Pacific, the cool summers are for the immediate coast only and it is much warmer and drier inland. Even just a few miles from the beaches, temperatures of 100F (in the north) and 110F (in the south) are not uncommon. Thus, it is much like the US west coast overall, in that it has warmer winters and warmer summers than areas further east, and the climate is wet on the immediate coast but throughout the vast interior the summers are relatively dry. However, the shape of the land is much more like Europe than North America, which means that there is a lot of available flat land in which to settle, and although there are plenty of mountains, they are narrow and gentle and easily crossed, unlike the Rockies.

Nevertheless, the Goga strip is just a tiny part of the Khulls Empire, and the people have been building settlements nearly everywhere they can get to. There are settlements in Greenland-like areas where the temperature rarely goes above freezing, and in the winter can drop to -94F, and the only available foods are seabirds and fish. This land is useless in itself but the Khulls people have been fighting for control of it because it would enable them to completely encircle the Rum Ocean which would in turn give them a safe andf friendly route to the east coast.

There are also cities located very far south, such as in the Tropical Rim, which is a term for the south coast of the entire continent. Unlike the Poswob Empire, which only goes down to about 25N, the Khulls empire has millions of square miles of true tropical climates that not only never see snow, but never see temperatures that would require people to wear clothes or blankets to keep warm. On the other hand, due to the difference in wind patterns from Earth, this land is largely too dry to be useful for large scale agriculture, even with irrigation, so settlements here are sparse and the population is still mostly aboriginal.

What kinds of natural disasters has this society gotten used to?

There is not much to fear in nature here. There are no volcanoes, no major earthquakes, no hurricanes, no tornadoes, no blizzards, no sandstorms, no hailstorms, no floods, and no mudslides. Even thunderstorms only happen once a year or so. The biggest threat that comes from weather is really the lack of storms (i.e. drought) that they otherwise depend on to grow vegetables. But even then, they're right on the coast and it's not hard to find fish in the ocean even when the weather is terrible. Nor would the people suffer from malnutrition if they were forced to live on fish for a year or two.

What are the most commonly-grown foods?

Despite the abundance of fish available to them, the Goga diet consists primarily of fruits and vegetables. Most of these are grown inland, where the climate is warmer and sunnier, and then imported into the cities which are just a day's journey away. The farmers who grow these foods generally are not as wealthy as the urban Gogas despite government subsidies. But they are wealthier than the people who live by themselves without the subsidies.

What are the most commonly-eaten meats?

Gogans will eat pretty much anything except humans. They will even eat the meat of animals such as dolphins which on this world are sapient and have civilizations all their own without any human presence. The other animals do not like this, and sometimes attack Gogans and other Khulls settlements, but the Gogans are not pacifists and are well prepared for attack.

What foods are considered exotic or expensive?

Tropical fruits which cannot be grown natively (except in greenhouses with great difficulty). The Goga people prefer to buy from the Poswobs rather than the southern limits of their own empire. This is for political reasons; the other Khulls peoples are a threat to the Gogas; the Poswobs are not. Some people own greenhouses in which tropical fruits can be grown, but this is both expensive and delicate, since the glass can easily be smashed, ruining the entire year's crop in one minute.

What forms of alcohol are common? Rare?

Is there usually enough food and water for the population?

The Goga people generally rely on food imported from places nearby, though as above, they could live on fish if they were desperate (indeed the poorer segments of society already do). This is because they are primarily urban and have reached a population density far higher than the land is capable of supporting.

What is this place's most abundant resource?

What is its most valuable resource?

Metals to make weapons and other machines used by other nations.

What resource is it most lacking?

How do people travel from one place to another?

Are the borders secure? In what way?

How many people live here?

The population is about 1 million (human), divided relatively evenly between the five nations that make up the Goga Alliance. Within these states, the vast majority of the population is urban, and the inland wilderness is so thinly settled that many of the local animals dont even know that the humans are there.

Where in this place to they congregate?

What part of this place do they avoid? Why?

What are the most common domesticated animals here? And what are they domesticated for?

There are no true domesticated animals in the Goga Empire, or for that matter on planet Teppala. All sapient animals are self-sufficient and will deal with humans as equals and not as "subjects".

What are the most common wild animals?

Which animals are likely to be pets? Which ones won't be?

Questions of Time

How far back does this society's written history go?

How far back do its people believe it goes?

What is the worst disaster they believe they've faced?

What was the best thing that every happened to them?

What in their past makes them feel ashamed?

What in their past makes them proud?

What are they afraid of happening again?

What are they hoping will happen? Do they think it likely?

What do they assume the future will hold?

How has this society changed? Do its current members realize this?

What are the most popular stories about the past?

Who in the past is the greatest hero? The worst villain?

Do people think the present better or worse than the past?

Do people believe the future will be better or worse than the present or past?

Questions of Sex and Family

How many spouses may a man or woman have?

Who decides on a marriage?

Can a marriage end in divorce? How?

Who usually takes custody of children if a marriage ends for some reason?

How is adultery defined? What (if any) is the punishment? Who decides?

How are families named?(g) What happens to orphans?

The Gogans use a patronymic system similar to that of Earth; sometimes both parents' names will be put into the surname if it is a large city where there might be a lot of people with the same name.

How are boy and girl children treated differently?

The Gogans overthrew a Feminist-Pacifist government long ago, and have since then seen feminism as a backward trait associated mostly with people who are just barely earning enough to survive. Thus to them feminism is "conservative" and masculism is "modern". Gogans are also highly individualistic, much unlike Poswobs who seldom talk about anything smaller than a nuclear family. Thus men are generally more powerful than women in this society, and as children boys are considered more important. Nevertheless, they are put through a much tougher childhood than girls because they are the ones responsible for defending the nation and cannot be "sissies".

The rate of male-on-female violence, including rape, is the highest in the world. Many people in Goga blame this on the fact that they are largely surrounded by Moonshines and Poswobs, both tribes of people in which women are much taller than men, and within those tribes, men physically assaulting women is in many contexts considered acceptable because women are generally able to hold their own and win the fight. In Goga, men are pushed to be as strong as possible, and women are expected to be weak and helpless, which means that an average man can easily win a fight against four or five women. Yet the tall-female people have begun moving into Goga and many traits of their culture have spread to the native Gogans.

At first, Gogans were strictly protective of all women, and would arrest Poswob men for fighting with their girlfriends despite the obvious fact that the woman was stronger than her boyfriend. This quickly changed though because Poswob culture was seen as superior. The Gogans in many ways are trying to become Poswobs without undergoing, as Moonshines call it, "The Great Conspiracy" to put women fully in control of society.

Are premarital relations allowed?

How does your society define incest? Rape? How do people react to these?

What, if anything, is considered a good marriage gift?

What secret vice is believed to be widely practiced?

What secret vice actually is practiced?

What sexual habits are widely believed common among foriegners?

Pretty much any sexual deviation is associated with foreigners since they are seen as physically defective. That does not mean that they actually blame foreign influence for the presence of sexual deviancy among Gogans, however.

How do people react to homosexuality?

How do the genders dress?

Dress is similar to that of the modern West, though the fabrics are much more primitive. Goga has not really advanced anywhere beyond the poorer nations around it in terms of the technology of textile manufacture, other than when it comes to armor. Women are likely to wear skirts, and men will occasionally do so, though it is a trait commonly associated with the Sakhi people and therefore seen as somewhat unmanly because the Sakhi people are very short and physically weak. Form fitting pants are worn by both sexes at all ages.

Is prostitution legal? How are prostitutes viewed? Is this accurate?

What professions or activities are considered masculine?

What professions or activities are viewed as feminine?

Anything that lacks physical exertion or requires art-like esthetics (e.g. clothing design).

What inanimate or sexless things are considered male or female?

What is the biggest sexual taboo?

Rape and pedophilia, as in all the other nations. The frequency of rape (pedophile or otherwise) is far higher than one might expect for such a wealthy and privileged nation in part because of the lax attitude of the police force and the fact that children are often left alone for most of the day with no one to watch over them. Indeed, violent crime against children in general is a big problem in society, and often it is pure sadistic crime that doesn't benefit the perpetrator at all other than to watch people suffer.

Does this society connect the ideas of marriage with love?

What does this society mean by the word "virgin" and how important it it?

Questions of Manners

Who speaks first at a formal gathering?

What kinds of gifts are considered in extremely bad taste?

How do younger adults address their elders?

What colors are associated with power? With virtue? With death?

If two men get into a fight, how is this supposed to be resolved?

If two women get into a fight, how should that be resolved?

When is it rude to laugh at something funny?

What kinds of questions cannot be asked in public? In private? At all?

How do people demonstrate grief?

What does this society do with their corpses?

What kinds of jewelry do people where? And when?

Who inheirits property? Titles? Position?

What happens to those suffering from extreme mental illness?

What are the most popular games? How important are they?

What parts of the body are routinely covered?

How private are bodily functions like bathing or defecating?

How do people react to physical deformity?

When and how does someone go from child to adult?

Questions of Faith

Is there a formal clergy? How are they organized?

What do people believe happens to them after death? How, if at all, can they influence this?

What happens to those who disagree with the majority on questions of religion?

Are there any particular places considered special or holy? What are they like?

What are the most popular rituals or festivals?

What do people want from the god or gods? How do they try and get it?

How do their religious practices differ from their neighbours?

What is the most commonly broken religious rule?(i) What is the least-violated religious rule?

What factions exist within the dominant religious institutions? How do they compete?

Are there monastic groups? What do they do and how are they organized? How do you join one?

How are those who follow different faiths treated?

What relationship do religious and political leaders have?

What superstitions are common? What kinds of supernatural

events/beings do people fear?

Questions of Government

Who decides whether someone has broken a law? How?

What kinds of punishments are meted out? By whom? Why?

How are new laws created or old ones changed?

Is there some form of clemency or pardon? What is involved?

Who has the right to give orders, and why?

What titles do various officials have?

How are the rules different for officials as opposed to the common person?

How do government officials dress?

Is the law written down? Who interprets it?

Once accused, what recourse does someone have?

Is torture allowed? What kinds?

How are people executed?

Who cannot rise to positions of leadership?

Is bribery allowed? Under what circumstances?

What makes someone a bad ruler in this society? What can be done about it?

What are the most common or dangerous forms of criminal?

Questions of War

Who declares war?

Who has the power to declare conditions of peace?

What happens to prisoners taken in battle?

What form of warfare does this society use?

Who are the Elite warriors? What distinguishes them?

How does someone get command of troops?

Where do the loyalties of military units lie?

Are there professional soldiers? Do they make up the bulk of the military?

Has this society ever attacked another? Do they want to? What would make them do so?

Who are their enemies? Who's winning?

As said before, the Goga culture consists of five urban nations along the northwest coast of Rilola. But there was a sixth, even further west, known as "Wamia" (change this name NOW!!!It's been Wamia for 23 years!), that broke away for political reasons (a rare thing even in a developed society such as this; most conflicts were essentially just about ethnic loyalties). "Wamia" has a much more equitable income distribution than Goga, with every city and town averaging about 50 times the subsistence level in per capita income, whereas in Goga it is 200X in the cities and about 10-20X in the countryside. (and 1X in the adjacent states of the Poswob Empire)

Generally, Goga is winning, but they have never been able to actually conquer "Wamia" either, because "Wamia" is as well developed militarily as Goga is, and has more land available to it in the event it should ever be invaded. Also "Wamia" controls all of the ocean to the west of Neripi, including 600 miles of coastline that border the Goga land territory, so any invasion would likely have to take place along the difficult mountainous areas that separate them.

What do soldiers do when there's no war?

Questions of Education

Does this society have its own language? Its own writing?

How common is literacy? How is literacy viewed?

What form and value are books?

Who teaches others? How do they teach?

Who decides who learns to read or write?(f) Who teaches professions, like carpenter or scribe?

Are foreigners ever brought in to teach new skills? Who does that?

How do this society's doctors try to treat wounds and sickness?

Which medical assumtions of this society are wrong?

Questions of Art

What are the favorite artforms?

Art, in general, is discouraged in Neripi and the other Goga societies because it does not generally contribute to the economy. Theatre is flat-out illegal except as an amusement for children too young to be expected to work all day long. Local adults are allowed to watch the childern perform, since they most likely are the parents of them, but bringing the children to outside areas as though they were a money making business is not allowed. Sometimes the theatre can be an outlet for powerful emotions however. For example if a serious problem is threatening the society they will act it out in real life with children playing the parts of all humans so that the problem can be made to seem "cute" and unthreatening while simultaneously making people aware that it exists.

What qualities equal "beauty" in this society?

What makes a man or woman especially beautiful?

How do people react to tattoos? Piercings? Facial hair? Make-up?

The natural look is preferred in essentially all situations, except for hairstyles which are often elaborate.

Questions of sex and marriage

Is sex confined to marriage?

Or, is it supposed to be? What constitutes aberrant behavior?

Is there anything about this culture or religion in that culture that specifically addresses sexual conduct?

Are there laws about it? What about prostitution?

How old should someone be in your culture to be having sex?

What is considered too great a difference in age for a couple?

Do relationships allow multiple partners?

Should sex be a one-to-one experience? Or are groups allowed?

And, of course, what about homosexuality? Is it frowned on? Encouraged?

Male homosexuality is allowed since there is little danger of war and thus there are always plenty of men to go around. Female homosexuality is seen as evil, not because of the sex itself but because it effectively removes 2 women from the gene pool.

Questions of death and burial

What is their understanding of death and dying?

Do they cremate their dead? Or, how are dead bodies disposed of?

Is the family responsible for the body?

What part do the priests play?

Are there cemeteries at all?

Or, does everyone have a crypt in back with all the relatives in it?

Do people visit the dead? If so, how often and why?

Questions of suicide

What do people in this culture think about suicide?

Is it the greatest sin one can commit? Or is it a sin at all?

Is it the great and last comfort of a tormented soul?

Is it worse than murder?

Questions of Law, Justice and Police

Is there a civilian police force, or is law enforcement the province of the military?

Is the police force a nationalised one, or are there multiple regional forces?

How "military" are they? Are they usually/ever armed?

What is the extent of their authority? Can they shoot you? Can they use magic? Can they torture or otherwise force a confession? Can they use telepathy?

Are there individuals or groups who are above the law?

Is there a secret police?

What is the role of police informants, if any?