This article looks at three disparate travel texts—Robert Byron's classic 1937 travelogue The Road to Oxiana, Khaled Hosseini's massively popular 2003 novel The Kite Runner, and Michael Winterbottom's emotionally wrenching 2002 fauxdocumentary In This World—which deal, either directly or indirectly, with Afghanistan. It argues that the geographical coordinates of Afghanistan have recently been confused with the “War on Terror,” and that one of the most notable results of this has been the ideological assimilation of a Central Asian nation to the post–9/11-inspired imaginative geography of a “Greater Middle East.” The article seeks to account for this latter-day history of geographical misprision, but also for the triangulated relationship between travel, empire, and colonial modernity that underlies it—a relationship in which the US-dominated “colonial present” (Gregory 2004) maps onto the British imperial past.
Journeys in Afghanistan from Byron to Hosseini
Transport and Infrastructure in the East African Campaign of World War I
This article describes the little-known history of military labor and transport during the East African campaign of World War I. Based on sources from German, Belgian, and British archives and publications, it considers the issue of military transport and supply in the thick of war. Traditional histories of World War I tend to be those of battles, but what follows is a history of roads and footpaths. More than a million Africans served as porters for the troops. Many paid with their lives. The organization of military labor was a huge task for the colonial and military bureaucracies for which they were hardly prepared. However, the need to organize military transport eventually initiated a process of modernization of the colonial state in the Belgian Congo and British East Africa. This process was not without backlash or failure. The Germans lost their well-developed military transport infrastructure during the Allied offensive of 1916. The British and Belgians went to war with the question of transport unresolved. They were unable to recruit enough Africans for military labor, a situation made worse by failures in the supplies by porters of food and medical care. One of the main factors that contributed to the success of German forces was the Allies' failure in the “war of legs.”
author skillfully juxtaposes the colonial modernity of the city with the traditional lifestyle of the villagers. The author highlights the distinctive characteristics of the new urban culture, presenting Calcutta as a place of financial opportunity for
Michael D. Pante
A paradigm shift has occurred in the historiography of mobility in the Philippines and Southeast Asia in the past decade. Many of the recent works deal with social history, such as accounts of transport workers and analyses of colonial modernity, and thus reveal the influence of the broader historiographical revolution that began in the 1970s. Slowly but surely, the history of mobility is carving out a discursive space for itself within the wider area of mobility studies, which, in the Philippines, has heretofore focused only on planning and policy.
“Asian” Laborers and “Western” Urban Transportation in Colonial Manila and Singapore
Michael D. Pante
This article places race at the analytical center of a comparative urban transport history of early twentieth-century Singapore and Manila. It focuses on motorization, as seen in the influx and eventual dominance of streetcars and automobiles. The British and the American colonizers turned these Western-made vehicles into symbols of colonial modernity, defined in racialized terms. They regarded the different “Asiatics” as naturally ill-equipped to handle streetcars and automobiles, and when the colonized proved them wrong, the colonizers framed these acts using the racialist discourse of “potentiality.” Nevertheless, the native transport laborers appropriated motorized vehicles in ways that the colonizers did not imagine. Machines presented the natives a world of knowledge, which was maximized for financial gain. The acquisition of various forms of knowledge thus revealed a paradox of the civilizing mission: the colonizers exposed natives to the world of civilized knowledge, but the acquisition of this knowledge disrupted colonial discipline.
The Travels of José Uriel García and Aurelio Miró Quesada Sosa
Rupert J. M. Medd
From the 1930s onward, Peru began to acknowledge its own intellectual travel writers who were committed to writing about national geographical and social realities. This can be evidenced by the output during the period of independent travelers and those connected to state-funded institutions such as the Sociedad Geográfica de Lima. The underlying position is that the act of travel and its literature can work against imperialism and, therefore, become expressions of patriotism. Here, the travel narratives of two prominent Peruvian figures are analyzed: José Uriel García from Cusco and Aurelio Miró Quesada Sosa from Lima. Together, they provide valuable evidence about two different responses to the modernization of Peru while also representing the nation’s significant sociogeographical divides. The focus is on questions of history, coloniality/modernity, national identity, and natural resources such as water and wood. We hope that this will contribute to literary studies on travel and the environment.
Manuel Antonio Mesones Muro—the Madman of the Marañon River, Cárlos Oyague y Calderón—the State Engineer, and Roger Casement—Not of the Real World Humanitarian
Rupert J. M. Medd and Hélène Guyot
Between 1870 and 1915 Peru experienced a rubber-boom, extending into the Putumayo River region in 1893. This huge region of Amazonian forests was controlled by the Peruvian Amazon Company (P. A. Co.). Although Peruvian, they had British company directors and a British-Barbadian workforce. Their methods of extraction generated unimaginable degrees of human and ecological violence. Roger Casement, a British diplomat, was sent on a harrowing mission to investigate these allegations made by travelers. His Amazon Journal takes precedence; however, Peruvians also responded to the situation, reporting to the Geographical Society of Lima. Included are two forgotten yet influential Peruvian explorers: the geographer Manuel Antonio Mesones Muro and the engineer Cárlos Oyague y Calderón. By highlighting some of the early debates that circulated between Europe and Latin America on the natural resources and people of the Amazon forests, the focus is to draw out textual examples of perceptions on race, environment, and early consumer responsibility. Supported by coloniality/modernity theories, it also asks whether this form of travel writing was functioning as a resistance literature to imperialism for the time. Thus, this study investigates alternative readings that might also inform twenty-first-century scholars and activists as they articulate environmentalist and even social and ecological positions.
Eastern desire for traditional authority! So I’d like to make the logic behind it very explicit. First of all, I was hoping that there is an obvious anti-‘colonial modernity’ playfulness in the call given that it sounds incredibly anachronistic. It
Australian Interwar Magazines and Middlebrow Orientalism in the Pacific
Victoria Kuttainen and Sarah Galletly
’s interest in the inter-relationship between emergent media and “colonial modernity,” borrowing his term to rectify the “occlusion of colonialism” ( 2001: 12 ) in histories of modernity. In this, we also gesture toward the complicated intersection of a
Lawrence Ogbo Ugwuanyi
African States (ECOWAS) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). First, I make a distinction between colonial modernity and post-colonial modernity. By colonial modernity is meant the phase of modernity that was shaped and administered by