Newt Scamander

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Character
Name: Newton "Newt" Artemis Fido Scamander
Occupation: magizoologist
Relationships: Porpentina Scamander (wife); Rolf Scamander (grandson)
Fandom: Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts
Other: played by actor Eddie Redmayne in the Fantastic Beasts movies
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Newt Scamander is the author of the book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a book used by students in the Harry Potter series as a school textbook. He is a magizoologist, or a scholar of magical creatures. The Fantastic Beasts film series, whose first instalment aired in 2016, features Newt as a principal character and explores his past, love life and career as a magizoologist, as well as his encounters with the dark wizard Grindelwald.

As a character, Newt did not receive a great deal of fannish attention until the announcement of the Fantastic Beasts films in 2013, after which point fans began speculating and creating headcanons about Newt, particularly when it was announced that he was a member of Hufflepuff House (see Newt's Hogwarts House) and when it appeared that he might be a character of colour (see Hopes for a PoC Newt Scamander), although those hopes were later dashed when it was announced that Eddie Redmayne would be portraying Newt in the films.

Newt Scamander is also known to be the grandfather of Rolf Scamander, who married Luna Lovegood after the events of the Harry Potter series.

Canon

Before the movie spin-off

In the Harry Potter books, Newt is mentioned as the author of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. In 2001, J.K. Rowling published a print version of that book, with proceeds going to Comic Relief UK. This (particularly About the Author and the Introduction) was the main canon source for Newt Scamander before the Fantastic Beasts movies.

Fantastic Beasts Movies

Fandom

Newt's Hogwarts House

Fans who consider themselves members of Hufflepuff house were delighted at the announcement of a series with a well-rounded Hufflepuff main character, showcasing the values of their house, which was very much sidelined in the main series.

The actor playing Newt Scamander, Eddie Redmayne, made a “public service announcement” video with MTV in honour of the upcoming premiere of Fantastic Beasts, in which he declared himself a “proud Hufflepuff” and pointed to other notable excellent Hufflepuffs, including Cedric Diggory and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.[1]

Some fan thoughts on Newt's house:

"Why Newt is so important reason #528492

For years the fandom has portrayed Hufflepuffs as extroverts and good with people and Newt simply doesn’t fit this stereotype. The virtues Hufflepuff exemplifies are hard working and loyalty not extroversion and friendliness. While these traits can go together they don’t always. So please don’t assume all Hufflepuffs are extroverts because some of us, like Newt, aren’t."[2]
“...It’s as if by elevating Newt to be the central hero of the Fantastic Beasts film, Rowling has made him into a character that cannot be shrugged off. As I mentioned, Newt is awkward, he is gangly, and he interacts better with creatures than humans, but it all works. Newt Scamander embodies human flaws and the very best that can live inside someone. He has an unwavering moral compass. He wants peace between humans and beasts. He wants a gentler and kinder world. Being placed in the forefront of this film franchise, Newt Scamander becomes a realistic symbol of Hufflepuff House. He is flawed on the outside but pure and just on the inside. His values don’t seem unattainable like Cedric’s, and his eccentricities don’t define him like Tonks’ pink hair often does. He is a whole person, and we see all sides, making him the Hufflepuff we have been waiting for.” [3]

“I just love that we have an entire movie to explain the age old question:

“What the hell is a Hufflepuff?”

Well. They protect, fiercely. They’re loyal, even to the point of staying for a painful dinner because he’d kind of sort of implied that he would. They make friends quickly. They jump in wherever they’re needed, (Or wanted) and their reaction to someone trying to use a hurting child for their own gain is outrage, eyes flashing and wand a blurred motion in combative magic. They are not above physically luring a powerful creature back to safety using nothing more than a mating dance (and a bit of cunning) and they have no problem straight up lying to a mark for information because their loyalty, again, is fierce and eternal.

Hufflepuffs are hardworking, friendly, and loyal.

And, yes.

Hufflepuffs are particularly good finders.”[4]

Hopes for a PoC Newt Scamander

This article or section needs expansion.

I haven't been very active in HP fandom, so I'm sure I missed a lot. This is also a semi-braindump. See also talk page.

See also Race and Fandom.

J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. announced the Fantastic Beasts movie project on September 12, 2013. J.K. Rowling's official statement[5] included this line:

Newt’s story will start in New York, seventy years before Harry’s gets underway.

Some of the fandom put together place: New York City and time: 1920s, and arrived at Harlem Renaissance, a notable period of Black American excellence - giving rise to hopes that the Fantastic Beasts films might tell the story of a Black/PoC Newt Scamander in 1920s New York, particularly as there was no definitive canon information about Newt's appearance (including, crucially, his race).

Can people refrain from saying that Newt Scamander is canonically white?

There are several different illustrations of him and not one of them has been heralded as the canon illustration. His appearance has never been described in any of the Harry Potter novels, not even on a Chocolate Frog card.

Newt Scamander is a clean slate. They could cast anyone for him. They don’t have to cast a white person. It’s not racebending if they cast a POC. It’s not whitewashing if they don’t, but this is JK Rowling’s chance to create a POC character who is substantially fleshed out. Because honestly? Her efforts in the Harry Potter series fell flat.

And let’s face it, the most “magical” time in 1920s New York is the Harlem Renaissance. Sure, we have the flappers and the Prohibition and the Jazz Age, but let’s not forget how the black Americans took back Harlem and launched a cultural movement that made that neighbourhood the “Black Mecca”. Who isn’t convinced that Langston Hughes and co. weren’t all wizards?

#newt scamander #fantastic beasts and where to find them #the HP universe isn't just for white people #and besides #white british actors have been in EVERYTHING #and POC actors hardly ever get a break[6]
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2014)

The year is 1925. Fresh out of Hogwarts, Newt Scamander finds himself struggling with the banality of working for the Ministry of Magic. When the United Wizarding Republic invites him to investigate a rogue dragon living in the sewer systems of New York City, however, Newt’s boring life is plunged into chaos. New York City is dark, dirty, and dazzling, but with a little help from Nella Larson and Duke Ellington - the brightest witch and wizard of their age - Newt finally starts to feel that New York is home. Together, Nella and Duke teach Newt how to do the Charleston, how to buy Butterbeer off the blackmarket, and, of course, how to save New York City from a hoard of angry dragons.

Newt Scamander - Nathan Stewart-Jarrett
Nella Larson - Angel Coulby
Duke Ellington - Gary Carr

#THIS IS ALL I WANT OK?? #also #if you were wondering if newt and duke are supposed to look like they're flirting #the answer is a difinitive: #YES!!!![7]

Rebuttals to the "historical accuracy means Newt should be white" argument

Saying “statistically there was only a small number of PoC in Britain in the 20th Century so it’s implausible for the main character to be a PoC” is like saying “statistically only one person survived an attack from Voldemort so it’s implausible that the main character of the books would be that kid.” “Statistically, Darth Vader only had two kids.” “Statistically, only two people have been bitten by an OzCorp spider.”

“Statistically, most professional baseball players in the 1950s were white, so it is implausible that this film would be about Jackie Robinson.”[8]
It is canon that at least two of the families in the Pure-Blood Directory (“The Sacred 28”) are people of color: the Shacklebolts, who are canonically black, and Shafiq family (Shafiq being a traditionally Arabic surname).

So, on a list of pure-blood families compiled in the 1930s by exactly the kind of pure blood supremacist that the Ministry has always been riddled with, there is a black family and a Middle Eastern/South Asian family. That, to me, suggests, the main drag of oppression in the Wizarding World has more to do with blood purity than race.

Unfortunately, we don’t know very much about the intersection of race and blood purity in the HP Universe, but since we don’t know, I find it something of a fallacy to apply “historical plausibility” to a society that deliberately operates outside the Muggle sphere (and, oh yeah, is comprised of fucking fictional wizards).

It’s also a fallacy to assume that race relations in the Wizarding World operate in exactly the same terms as they do in our own world when, in fact, we have no evidence in canon that suggests that this is the case (in fact, we have more evidence to suggest that it isn’t).

Because if two wizarding families of color were powerful enough in the 1930s that they were included in The Sacred 28, then that suggests to me that a) there most certainly were PoC witches and wizards kicking around in wizarding Britain in the 1920s and 30s, and b) that their race didn’t detract from their privileged status as Pure Bloods (the Shacklebolts and Shafiqs were still respected and seen as desirable marriage prospects by white Pure Bloods).

So, yeah, no, the idea of a PoC wizard in the 1920s is not unheard of. It’s not inconsistent with canon or with actual history (the number of PoC in Britain may have been smaller in the 1920s than it is today, but they still existed. What? None of them were witches or wizards? The Wizarding World quashed them because they ~emphasize secrecy~ so much?). And it isn’t impossible that a black or Asian British wizard in the 1920s would have been working for the Ministry when we have no evidence to suggest that the Ministry, nor the Wizarding World at large, has ever discriminated on any basis other than Blood Status (and geez, wouldn’t it be nice to have some actual PoC lead characters in this franchise that thematically deals with racism?).[9]
Just wanted to add that on the topic of sexism in the ministry mentioned in the second comment, the first female Minister of Magic, Artemisa Lufkin, came into power in 1798 and was successful (she established the Department of International Magical Cooperation) and well liked. In addition to her, Priscilla Dupont, Hortensia Milliphutt, Evangeline Orpington, and Josephina Flint were all Ministers of Magic before the 1920′s. Women continued to hold significant places of power in the ministry with head-of department jobs (Mafalda Hopkirk) from as early as the early 19th century. With sexism and racism seemingly not as big of a deal in the wizarding world, you really can’t make an argument against POC Newt just because he was a minister.

(also all the facts I stated were found on Pottermore on the List of Ministers and are therefore considered canon)[10]

The 2014 Quidditch World Cup final

In July 2014, J.K. Rowling released Rita Skeeter's gossip column from the Quidditch World Cup final match. The gossip column included a line that described Rolf Scamander, Newt's grandson, as "swarthy" - i.e., dark-skinned. Fans were quick to pick up on this very specific word choice:

Last of the ringleaders of Dumbledore’s Army is, of course, Luna Lovegood (now married to Rolf Scamander, swarthy grandson of celebrated Magizoologist Newt). (x)

*PoC Newt Scamander headcanon intensifies*

and in other news, of course Rita Skeeter is racist as all hell

#it’s like dangling a carrot on a stick because you know they’ll cast a white guy in the movie[11]
so in that article, rolf scamander was described as “swarthy”

remember when fantastic beasts was first announced and we were all like “ok but what if we get a poc newt scamander?”

well, we might actually get a poc newt scamander

#harry potter #fantastic beasts #if you're not excited then idk what to tell you #oh my god /please/ jkr do you know how /good/ that would be[12]

PoC Newt fancasts

A number of fancasts or suggested castings for a PoC Newt Scamander (some of them gender-swapped) were put forward by fans in the lead-up to the film's release, including:

Richard Ayoade:

Angel Coulby:

Idris Elba:

Janelle Monáe:

Dev Patel:

Suraj Sharma:

Nathan Stewart-Jarrett:

"In support of a Newt of color: Diversity in the wizarding world" by Marissa Lee (a founder of Racebending) was published 3 April 2015 on Mugglenet. As of 23 July 2018, it is in the sections "Blogitorials" and "The Quibbler"; compare to "Casting Newt Scamander", published 15 Sept 2013 on Mugglenet, which has no author named and is in the sections "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film" and "News."

Meta/Further Reading on Hopes for a PoC Newt

Links & Resources

References

  1. ^ Newt Scamander Defends Hufflepuff Pride, Inverse. Published November 15, 2016 (Accessed December 23, 2017).
  2. ^ Why Newt is so important reason #528492 by hufflepuffinthetardis221b, Tumblr. Posted November 26, 2016 (Accessed December 23, 2017).
  3. ^ Newt Scamander: The Hufflepuff We Need by Amy, The Daily Prophet Blogitorials, Mugglenet. Posted December 1, 2016 (Accessed December 23, 2017).
  4. ^ Tumblr post by citizen-of-the-fandom, Tumblr. Posted November 25, 2016 (Accessed December 23, 2017). Archived on February 2, 2017.
  5. ^ J.K. Rowling post on Facebook, September 12, 2013. Accessed 22 July 2018.
  6. ^ "Can people refrain from saying Newt Scamander is canonically white?", tumblr post by alterocentrist, posted within 3 days of the announcement (Racebending posted a reply to a reply 15 Sept 2013). (Accessed 22 July 2018.)
  7. ^ Gifset and teaser text (original link, now moved) by lordbyronsbloomers, posted no later than 6 July 2014. (Accessed 25 July 2018 at a new address.)
  8. ^ Tumblr blog Racebending on the "historical accuracy means white Newt Scamander" argument, 16 September 2013. (Accessed 22 July 2018.)
  9. ^ "It is canon that at least two of the families in the Pure-Blood Directory (“The Sacred 28”) are people of color", tumblr reply by chaucerettes. (Link requires you to be logged in to Tumblr; you can read this text on the next comment's post.)
  10. ^ "the first female Minister of Magic, Artemisa Lufkin, came into power in 1798", tumblr reply by albuspotterstolemytie, posted between July 2014 & July 2015. (Accessed 23 July 2018.)
  11. ^ "*PoC Newt Scamander headcanon intensifies*", tumblr post by inkyopinions, July 2014. Original link (now dead); link to a reblog by bikedancelaugheat.
  12. ^ "so in that article, rolf scamander was described as ‘swarthy’", tumblr post by asongofwizardsandtimelords, July 2014. Original link[Dead link] (dead before I had a chance to reblog it; does anyone else have this post?).