Ever since the Gilgamesh epic and Homer’s Odyssey, stories of travel and adventure, whether ‘fictional’, ‘factual’, or a mix of both, have been crucial to the collective self-definition of human societies. Since the early modern period and the increased frequency of cross-cultural encounters, the literary motif of the journey became a significant ingredient of colonial imagination. The ideology of adventure, crucial to many works of literature, pervades Western discourses of economic expansion and scientific discovery, while anthropologists, seeking to document indigenous story traditions, encountered an oral archive not unlike that of their own. Travelistic texts (by ‘culture heroes’, explorers, colonial agents, missionaries, scientific explorers, refugees, and foreign visitors) often provide the semantic repertoire for descriptions of ‘exotic’ spaces and populations. The knowledge gained through physical encounters during journeys to foreign lands often functions to revise inherited ideas about ‘cultures’ – those of others as well as one’s own. The topics ‘travel’ and ‘travel writing’ therefore invite us to address questions of reliability and verifiability.

This volume brings together experts from diverse disciplines and places around the globe whose work is concerned with the phenomenon and discourse of travel, transculturation, and the cross-cultural production of knowledge. The contributions reflect the recent shift in travel scholarship toward including the study of ideological conflicts within Europe’s ‘imperial gaze’, as well as attempts at tracing the perspective of Europe’s ‘others’, which frequently challenged colonial certainties and claims to intellectual supremacy.


Contributors

Mary Baine Campbell, Gabriele Dürbeck, Ottmar Ette, Rupert Gaderer, Leila Gómez, Bruce Greenfield, Michael Harbsmeier, Hanna Hodacs, Sharon Kinoshita, Dean MacCannell, Gesa Mackenthun, Daniel Newman, Andrea Nicolas, Łukasz Wierzbicki, Stephanie Wodianka, Friedrich Wolfzettel

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