It has become a Structuralist truism in the social sciences to state that individuals define themselves by what they are not. It has equally become evident that travel—and particularly the voluntary, temporary, and perspectival type that we call tourism—is predicated on interaction with the Other. Travelogues are particularly salient “social facts” in this regard, for they both index such processes of identity formation, as well as contribute to them. Two edited volumes, Rolf-Hagen Schulz-Forberg's Unraveling Civilisation: European Travel and Travel Writing (2005) and John Zilcosky's Writing Travel: The Poetics and Politics of the Modern Journey (2008) provide compelling examples of how the multifarious and complementary processes of travel and travel writing not only index, but construct, European identity.
Michael A. Di Giovine
Responses to Travel Literatures and the Problem of Authenticity
This article compares responses to travel writing and imaginative fiction about the settler colonies, in particular Australia and New Zealand, between 1870 and 1945—a time when distinctions between travel, mobility, and emigration were hard to pin down. Very little scholarship has shown an interest in what the subject society’s inhabitants thought of its portrayal, and what this can tell us about colonial and national identities. Australasian responses to works about Australasia, in the form of published reviews, were influenced by the knowledge and particular concerns of the reviewer and their own negotiations with identity. What mattered to readers and critics was the authenticity of the portrayal of the place, but this was not only related to whether the work claimed to be fiction or non-fiction. The perceived level of familiarity that the writer had with the area was the most important factor in determining whether the reception of a work was positive or negative.
Banditry and Land Travel in the Roman Empire
Lincoln H. Blumell
This paper considers the perils of travel by focusing on banditry, a conspicuous, yet oft-neglected, feature of the Roman Empire. Appearing at different times and at various locations it was thoroughly entrenched in Roman society and affected both the rich and poor alike. But the primary victim of banditry and the one to whom it posed the greatest threat was the ancient traveller since brigands tended to operate mostly along roads and rural highways in search of prey. The very real danger brigands posed to the ancient traveller can be detected from a number of diverse sources including tombstones on which was inscribed 'killed by bandits'. While the government took some measures to curb and even stamp out banditry, given the administrative and policing handicaps inherent in the Empire it remained fairly widespread.
Travel, Travel Writing, and Old Age
This article offers preliminary thoughts on travel writing from a gerontological perspective. Gender, race, and sexuality have provided important analytical frames for travel writing studies, but age has yet to function as a topic or point of reference. Through a consideration of five travel books by respected modern authors—Jan Morris, Dervla Murphy, V. S. Naipaul, Paul Theroux, and Colin Thubron—the article asks what motivates travel writers to stay “on the road” into their seventies and beyond, and what the distinctive features of travel narratives written at this life stage might be. The article aims to demonstrate the intrinsic fascination of travel books in which a strong abiding curiosity about the world coexists with an acute—and often melancholy—awareness of the passing of time and personal mortality.
A Study of Travel Archives
Lee Arnold and Thomas van der Walt
People’s travel collections serve as a memory aid to help them write travelogues, novels, or scientific reports when they return home. They may also have merely been a way to document a voyage or journey for future generations. Under the surface of any of these end uses is simply the need to collect, the need to hold on to memory—in the form of material culture, ephemera, photographic documentation or assiduous note taking. Travel archives are the materials (either in manuscript form or printed ephemera) that document the purposeful travel of an individual or group. Like family papers, they may be perceived as having limited value beyond their fellow travelers or family members. Irrespective of the motivation of the traveler, these collections often end up in repositories. How an archivist deals with this material is crucial to its future use.
Tourism, Travel Journalism, and the Construction of a Modern National Identity in Sweden
Tourism research has analyzed how modern nations are marketed to attract tourists from abroad and how domestic tourism has been used in the construction of national identities. Less attention has been given to the construction of outbound tourism as a central aspect of how a nation becomes modern. The following article studies Swedish travel journalism in the 1930s, when older forms of masculine colonial travel shared space with modern tourism trips. Even though few Swedes could travel abroad, tourism, both domestic and outbound, was vividly discussed as an established practice. To travel was practically a duty and something that would make the Swedes healthy, modern, and worldly. It would also foster proper national sentiments. The ideal of a warm but not chauvinistic celebration of one’s own country is a common Swedish position in relation to the world.
Oil, Empire, and Patrimonialism in Contemporary Chad
Stephen P. Reyna
This article concerns a type of change involving implementation of 'traveling models'—procedural cultural plans of how to do some-thing done somewhere elsewhere. Specifically, it concerns the World Bank's traveling model of oil revenue distribution in support of Chadian development. It finds that this model is failing and that dystopia is developing in its stead. A contrasting explanation, which examines the contradictions and consequences of Chadian patrimonialism and US imperialism, is proposed to account for this state of affairs. Finally, the analysis is shown to have implications for conceptualizing patrimonialism and planning development.
Disorientation, Travel, and Urban Space
Using a 2010 trip to Hanoi, Vietnam, this article looks at the ways that disorientation is used as a trope within the urban environment and to create the traveling subject. Suggesting that travel is a form of deliberate disorientation/ orientation, the article focuses on ideas of disorientation within the urban environment and the ways they have been portrayed in Western cultural forms (the flâneur; the dérive) while suggesting these forms are not sufficient to understand the dynamics of travel. Moreover, the article focuses on two forms of travel as disorientation derived from John Zilcosky—the trope of being "lost and found" and that of "the return." Finally, the article suggests that Marcus Auge's idea of non-place is not only a sufficient way of conceptualizing contemporary notions of travel, but is also an indicator of something beyond its scope—that of globalization.
European Travel Writers and the Making of a Genre—Comment
Steven D. Spalding
This comment on the special section “On Travel Writing and Knowledge Transfer: Itinerant Knowledge Production in European Travel Writing” examines the section’s contributions in terms of the project called for in the section’s introduction. What new kinds of knowledge are produced in the context of the ever-increasing mobility of European travelers from the sixteenth century forward? What are the discursive conditions within which knowledge is constructed in and through travel narratives—including discourses of selves and others, of cultures and nations? How does mobility shape knowledge production, as narratives of journeys across the oceans develop into a full-blown genre with ever-greater stakes for travelers, readers, and nations? The four case studies in the special section offer insightful snapshots from the history of European travel writing—with a special emphasis on German authors—that resonate with major themes from travel writing studies and critical studies more generally, from Romanticism to the colonialist or imperial gaze.
Starting with the observation that there is a failure in an English language of “difference” associated with travel and trade in the late sixteenth century, this article explores the nature and consequences of that failure. Particular emphasis is placed on conversion—the evaluation and acceptance of an “alien” body into the Anglican community—and an analysis of John Foxe's A sermon preached at the christening of a certaine Iew (1578) and Meredith Hanmer's The Baptizing of a Turke (1586). Diplomatic and travel texts are considered to demonstrate the use of an earlier lexicon of heresy alongside contemporary ideas concerning the equivalence of Roman Catholicism, Judaism, and Islam. In the last decade or so many scholars have identified problems with the critical language in which these issues are discussed, in particular the notion of early modern England and its “others”. In evaluating the failure of a language of “difference,” this article suggests an alternative critical vocabulary.