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In my story there is a collection of people who, thousands of years ago, were exiled from their home world. They fought in a galactic scale war and were on the losing side, they were then used as a bargaining chip by their allies and handed over to the enemy who plundered their resources. Almost every inhabitant was uprooted and shipped off to a collection of uninhabited and unknown planets, the next few hundred years were pretty rough for them as they had to learn how to survive all over again. How would this kind of trauma change a culture in both the short term and the long term?

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    $\begingroup$ Are you aware you are describing the cultural history of Frank Herbert's Fremen? $\endgroup$
    – Ash
    Nov 10 '21 at 5:07
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    $\begingroup$ This is a very broad, open ended and opinion based question, far too much to be a good fit for this site. Look at how many different cultures have experienced cultural trauma on Earth and how many different responses to it there have been. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Nov 10 '21 at 5:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Ash Oh no! Not another heroes journey. Can’t they write anything original anymore :P $\endgroup$ Nov 10 '21 at 11:04
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    $\begingroup$ I do not agree that this question is opinion-based. However, I do think that it does not comply with the rules of the WB.SE because it is not specific enough and it is not answerable in its current form. In other words, it needs details and clarity. || Thousands of years is a very long time in terms of human cultures. There are very few cultures in the modern world that existed for longer than a millennium. Does your culture have some technology that helps with the preservation of cultural memory? What was the original culture of the exiles? Do they maintain a connection with the wider world? $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Nov 10 '21 at 16:28
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    $\begingroup$ [cont.] If your culture is human it is possible to make educated guesses about the consequences of the events you describe. Human cultures do not develop randomly and while they are very diverse we can still observe some common principles. However, we need to know about 1) the starting conditions (culture, technological level, approximate number of exiles), 2) conditions during exile (did exiles preserve technology and culture?; do they plan for a comeback?), 3) how harsh is their new environment. The more details you provide the less room will be for speculation in answers. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Nov 10 '21 at 16:42
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We have some examples in our history, probably the most notorious being the diaspora in the Jewish history.

The Jewish diaspora began with the Assyrian captivity and continued on a much larger scale with the Babylonian captivity. Jews were also widespread throughout the Roman Empire, and this carried on to a lesser extent in the period of Byzantine rule in the central and eastern Mediterranean. In 638 CE the Byzantine Empire lost control of the Levant. The Arab Islamic Empire under Caliph Omar conquered Jerusalem and the lands of Mesopotamia, Syria and Egypt. The Golden Age of Jewish culture in Spain coincided with the Middle Ages in Europe, a period of Muslim rule throughout much of the Iberian Peninsula.

In your case instead of being spread in multiple foreign regions, the people are spread in multiple foreign planets. The likely result is that there will be some common background culture and language, which will then slowly drift locally. Some of the form of the culture might simply become impossible (e.g. religious practices bound to a certain place) and kept as histories from the past, some other will adapt to the local realities.

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  • $\begingroup$ If these people ever get back together again, they might end up doing something like the revival of Hebrew. $\endgroup$
    – Kevin
    Nov 10 '21 at 17:36
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If they're aliens then whatever you like, that's a plot thing.

If they're human then we need to put "thousands of years ago" into a human perspective:

  • Roughly 1 thousand years ago the Holy Roman Empire is the most powerful state in Europe, the only European countries that we'd recognise on a map are the newly founded Hungary, Russia, and maybe Wales. Elsewhere in the world Japan exists in roughly it's current form but no other nation has similar borders, China has a cultural identity you'd recognise though.

  • 2 Thousand years ago Rome rules much of the western world, including the Middle East, the Olmec are in Central America, the Han in what will become China, there are a series of moderately large empires in the Indian subcontinent and the rest of the world is a blank with the occasional name of a tribal alliance penciled in.

  • 3 Thousand years ago it's the start of the iron age, Jewish oral histories tell us David ruled an Israel that was as large as any state to go by that name, the Phoenician alphabet has just been invented. The first rice cultivation begins in the Japanese archipelago.

  • 4 Thousand years ago most of the world is still dominated by hunter-gatherer societies and bronze age Europe is a hodgepodge of farming communities. There are just four societies that have something we recognise as an organised government on the globe.

  • 5 Thousand years ago Stonehenge was being started, they'd just domesticated camels in Egypt and the bronze age was starting in the Aegean.

  • 6 Thousand years ago humans had domesticated horses and were using oxen to plough land in a few isolated areas, we had pottery and had started using copper.

  • 7 Thousand years ago it's the stone age all over.

So if it's only been three or four thousand years then there may be some cultural memories of being uprooted and scattered possibly with some cultural insularity and persecution complex to go with it. Even that relies on some degree of cultural continuity though. If the culture loses enough of it's lore, through loses of key population, or purely through having to prioritise the scramble for survival over passing on their history and learning, then they won't even have that. You haven't really touched on their ongoing status/treatment after their exile which is as, possibly more, important as the event of their great lose.

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    $\begingroup$ Nitpicking after upvoting: the HRE was never ever the most powerful state in Europe, and even calling it a state is debatable. To the list of recognizable state names in Europe a thousand years ago you definitely should add England, France and Poland. There were no camels in Egypt five thousand years ago, domestic or otherwise; the domestication of camels happened elsewhere, and domestic camels were introduced in Egypt (likely from Arabia or the Levant) about three thousand years ago. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Nov 10 '21 at 13:35
  • $\begingroup$ May I suggest that the Bronze age was a bit more organized, but focused on the fertile crescent? The trade routes were long - tin from Britain and east of Babylon. $\endgroup$
    – David R
    Nov 10 '21 at 17:07
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP Argue the details with Wikipedia, the list demonstrates the point. $\endgroup$
    – Ash
    Nov 11 '21 at 5:45
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidR At the height of the Bronze Age I quite agree but that was more like 3300 years ago not 4000, a lot changed in those seven centuries. $\endgroup$
    – Ash
    Nov 11 '21 at 5:46
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The trauma? Not half so much as its having been several millennia since it happened. Cultures even in ancient times changed enormously over centuries let alone millennia.

Since it was a one-time event and resulted in their being settled on a planet, I would expect virtually no impact. Conceivably a founding myth, but the color it would have would be given entirely by the culture it was told in.

In particular, they would have spread across the planets and developed many cultures arising from particular local conditions. Even one planet would have let them have several.

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  • $\begingroup$ Jews have some rather specific practices that stem directly from trauma millennia ago. China still has lessons it culturally learned from Mongol raids millennia ago. It’s not common, but there are cultures that remain coherent across vast time spans. $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Nov 10 '21 at 5:53
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    $\begingroup$ Jews did not suffer a one time event, and the Mongols were not millennia ago but early modern. $\endgroup$
    – Mary
    Nov 10 '21 at 13:19
  • $\begingroup$ @SRM: There may be culture which remain coherent across vast time spans, but your two examples are not among them. Pseudo-traditional Chinese culture as show in pseudo-historical movies is (to the extent it has any link with historical reality) about 300 years old. Traditional fundamentalist Jewish culture is even more recent. (And the vast majority of Jews are fully integrated in the modern world culture anyway.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Nov 10 '21 at 13:24
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I encourage you to also consider the influence of intergenerational trauma on the political mobilization and well-being of black communities, such as African Americans. Since you are using the language "people", I'm answering this question with the assumption these are humans.

Cultural history is damaged, so individuals may have trouble identifying with a fragmented, and demoralized/disempowered culture.

There are health problems and psychosocial issues linked to SES to consider. Less obvious (and longer term), consider epigenetic changes over time. For example, Goosby & Hindbrink (2014) explain

stressful conditions and poor health experienced by mothers can lead to alterations in her offspring’s gene expression without changing his or her genotype.

Remember, just as a nation's (or world's) identity is not located solely within its geographical borders, rather it operates as a social organization.

Integration of the inter-planetary market not only universalizes social ideologies such as race and gender, but reinforces economic inequality when exchanges are between 1st and 3rd world planets.

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You might want to consider how trauma is transmitted between generations.

(opinion) The people who experienced trauma will impact their children. They will also tell the stories to their grandchildren. Those stories get retold by their children and grandchildren to the next two generations. So, we share the stories from our great great grandparents. Even in modern culture, we look back 150 years for stories and myths. Once the grandparents are gone and can't tell the stories their grandparents told them, the stories can slowly disappear. (I base this on how much Civil War reenactments are of interest to many people today while Revolutionary War actions have less impact, but had large interest 100 to 150 years after it happened.) Oral cultures have passed down stories for even longer periods of time.

Stories have impact on the next generation when that generation can relate to parts of the story. When the environment is radically different, the next generation doesn't listen much to the stories. But, when a trauma is repeated generation after generation, then the stories can still have impact hundreds of years later. Thus, tales of ancient grievances can be used as motivation for current conflicts. (/opinion)

There are some studies on passing information through epigenetic means. https://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-observe-epigenetic-memories-passed-down-for-14-generations-most-animal I've seen a couple of references to studies of Union soldiers transmitting trauma to their sons but haven't found those studies.

A study of intergenerational transmission of trauma: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/02/legacy-trauma

Blog: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-me-in-we/201205/how-trauma-is-carried-across-generations

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  • $\begingroup$ Indeed folklorists have concluded that even with trained professionals like bards, oral history can be relied on about 150 years, and not longer. $\endgroup$
    – Mary
    Nov 11 '21 at 2:11

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