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Donald H. Holly Jr.

For most people, travel writing is ethnography. Whereas few will ever read anything written by a professional anthropologist, travel literature is widely read and popular. Consequently, the public has come to trust journalists, travelers, and other writers for accurate information about indigenous peoples, Culture, and other subjects that have long been the purview of anthropologists. In this context, travel writing plays a critical role in how the public imagines and understands the Other. This article surveys common themes and popular representations of that ultimate Other—hunters and gatherers—as penned in twentieth and early twenty-first century travel literature. In particular, the article focuses on the trope of self-discovery, a literary device in which the author’s encounters with foraging peoples—often portrayed as remnants of the original human society—serve as a mirror in which the author reflects on their self, and writ large, modernity.