Travel as Imperial Strategy

George Nathaniel Curzon Goes East, 1887-1894

in Volume 2 (2001): Issue 1 (Jun 2001)

Sometimes a travel theory is enunciated with such transparency as to seem almost a caricature. A key aspect of the debate surrounding Edward Said’s Orientalism has been the argument, adduced by such writers as Reina Lewis (1996), Lisa Lowe (1991), Billy Melman (1992), Dennis Porter (1991) et al., that Said’s construct disallows a space for multivalent positionings within the discourse of Orientalism. In this essay it is not my intention to rescue Said’s thesis from these critics, or to attempt a revision of his correlation of Orientalism with imperialism. My subject can be seen to justify Eurzon’s inclusion, alongside contemporaries like Balfour and Cromer, within that bloc of imperial patronage that sought to inscribe the East within the construct of Western knowledge/power which Said termed Orientalism. As enunciations of an aesthetic of travel, or codifications of imperial administration, Curzon’s writings rarely digress from Foucault’s equation of knowledge and power. But I intend also to problematise the confidence of imperial mastery in Curzon’s Orientalism by articulating the interior anxieties it seeks to cover by its political/racial logocentrism.

Journeys

The International Journal of Travel and Travel Writing

in Volume 2 (2001): Issue 1 (Jun 2001)

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