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I have a story set in a fantasy-Africa, in which the protagonist must make her way from her rural home to a coastal city in order to seek medical treatment that will save her life. One beta reader for the story was concerned about potential colonialist implications of this. I understand the commenter's concern, but it had never occurred to me because I know that there is no colonization in this setting, and there is no racial difference between the protag and the people that she seeks help from.

How can I make this clear without beating the reader over the head with an "As you know, Bob"?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Is there's anything distinctive about the people of the area? Something that you could show in her rural location and then have her find familiar or comforting in the city?

Alternatively, cities tend to have a wide range of people in them, so maybe there is some element of the xenotic (apparently not a word) that you could use to contrast with everyone else to highlight their uniformity.

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+1: The idea of her coming to the city and realizing it's not as different as she expected, assuming of course that she's never been to the city before. –  Fox Cutter Dec 3 '10 at 21:06

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