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travel writing, geography and

  One possible meaning of \'geo-graphy\' is \'earth-writing\', and so one might expect there to be a close association between geography and \'travel writing\'. Yet one of the great ironies of the modern discipline is that, at the very moment when the sensibilities of traditional regional geography had been eclipsed by the rise of a formal and abstract spatial science and its successor projects, most of which showed little or no concern for the representation of other places and other people, there was an extraordinary surge of public interest in the imaginative accounts and popular geographies provided by travel writing.

Modern geography\'s interest in the academic study of travel writing is equally recent, and has several interrelated sources. First, a revivified history of geography has installed a greatly expanded sense of what constitutes \'geography\': no longer circumscribed by the genealogy of geography as a science or a formal discipline, scholars have become much more attentive to the production of geographical knowledge in a variety of forms and from a variety of subject-positions and social locations that had no place in conventional histories. Secondly, a new interest in historical geographies of colonialism and imperialism has opened up the records of scientific expeditions and the journals of explorers and ordinary (and not-so-ordinary) travellers to a critical interrogation that seeks to recover not only their production of \'spaces of knowledge\' but also their entanglements in \'spaces of power\' (cf. exploration). Thirdly, the \'new cultural geography\' has placed questions of representation at the very heart of geographical inquiry, and the study of travel writing has an important part to play in illuminating the poetics and politics involved in the production and reception of imaginative geographies, in revealing the reciprocities between identity-formation and the construction of alterity (see other/otherness), and in teasing out the complexities and entailments of hybridity and transculturation.

The boundaries between \'fact\' and \'fiction\' are called into question (or at any rate blurred) by these developments. While geographers have offered critical readings of nominally fictionalized accounts of travel (e.g. Cresswell, 1993; Phillips, 1997), much of the interest in travel writing has centred on using the apparatus of critical theory and post-colonialism to offer readings of ostensibly factual travel accounts. Geographers are not alone in these predilections, and the academic study of such travel writing has attracted scholars in anthropology and sociology, cultural and literary studies, and cultural history and the history of science. Neither has it been confined to written texts — to \'travel writing\' in the narrow sense — and there have been important cross-fertilizations with the history of art, the history of cartography, the history of photography and the history of \'collecting\' (e.g. Stafford, 1984; Smith, 1985; see also art, geography and; cartography, history of). The study of travel writing has been concerned less with the routine documentation and record-keeping produced in the course of political administration or commercial affairs — although the conduct of both has involved and continues to involve extensive travel — than with the texts produced in the course of travel conducted under the signs of Reason and Pleasure. Those two well-springs flow into and out of one another, and they are hardly without political or economic implications, so that any (conventional) distinction between \'exploration\', \'travel\' and \'tourism\' is far from stable or secure. For analytical purposes, however, it is possible to list a series of prominent themes under those three — loose — headings:

Cultures of exploration and enumeration: images of other cultures and landscapes on the occasions of European \'discovery\' and colonial dispossession (e.g. Carter, 1987; Campbell, 1988; Greenblatt, 1991; Clayton, 1999); images of other \'natures\', the cultural formation of natural history and the conduct of European scientific expeditions (e.g. Jardine, Secord and Spary, 1996; Miller and Reill, 1996); regional surveys and regional geographies (e.g. Godlewska, 1995; Naylor and Jones, 1997).

Cultures of travel: imaginative geographies produced by independent, \'extra-scientific\' travellers and the \'imperial stylistics\' of travel writing (e.g. Pratt, 1992; Gregory, 1995); gendered geographies and women travellers (e.g. Mills, 1991; Melman, 1992; Blunt, 1995; McEwen, 1996; Morgan, 1996); the intersections of cultures of travel, transgression and sexuality (e.g. Porter, 1991; Aldrich, 1993; Boone, 1995).

Cultures of tourism: the connections between imaginative geographies, the formation of national identities and the consolidation of bourgeois culture (e.g. Pemble, 1987; Andrews, 1989; Ousby, 1990; Buzard, 1993).

The study of travel writing is thus not a narrow textualism in which the circle of interest is drawn tightly around the author and the text. Duncan and Gregory (1999) have urged scholars to recover both the spaces of representation and the spaces of travel that enter into the production of travel writings: on the one side, to attend to the multiple sites at which representation takes place, the different means by which travellers record their experiences, and the ways in which travel writing works as an act of translation to produce (and authorize) a tense \'space in-between\'; on the other side, to attend to the spatiality of travel by registering travel writings and other travel texts as productions by corporeal subjects physically moving through material landscapes. It is also important to consider the effects of travel writing: both its domestic reception and its non-domestic performativity (i.e. its effects on subsequent travellers and local inhabitants) (Gregory, 1999).

The study of travel writing and geography threads out into a wider interest in the connections between travel and the cultural formations of modernity. It is noticeable that much of this work has been concerned with historical rather than contemporary writings (cf. Holland and Huggan, 1998) and that it has been dominated by studies of European and North American travellers (cf. Burton, 1996, 1998; Yarid, 1996; see also Occidentalism). These are significant lacunae; but it also remains to be seen whether the gap identified in the opening paragraph will be closed, and whether the study of travel writing will eventually enliven the practice of \'earth-writing\': whether it will license more critically aware, more imaginative and more effective geographical descriptions that succeed in attracting a wider public audience than the enumerations (rather than evocative descriptions) found in the standard regional geographies. (DG)

References Aldrich, R. 1993: The seduction of the Mediterranean: writing, art and homosexual fantasy. London: Routledge. Andrews, M. 1989: The search for the picturesque: landscape aesthetics and tourism in Britain 1760-1800. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Boone, J. 1995: Vacation cruises, or the homoerotics of Orientalism. Public Modern Language Association 110: 89-107. Blunt, A. 1995: Travel, gender and imperialism. New York: Guilford. Burton, A. 1996: Making a spectacle of Empire: Indian travellers in fin-de-siècle London. Historical Workshop Journal 42: 127-46. Burton, A. 1998: At the heart of empire: Indians and the colonial encounter in late Victorian Britain. Berkeley: University of California Press. Buzard, J. 1993: The beaten track: European tourism, literature and the ways to \'culture\' 1800-1918. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Campbell, M. 1988: The witness and the other world: exotic European travel writing 400-1600. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Carter, P. 1987: The road to Botany Bay. London: Faber. Clayton, D. 1999: Islands of truth. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. Cresswell, T. 1993: Mobility as resistance: a geographical reading of Kerouac\'s On the road. Transactions, Institute of British Geographers NS 18: 249-62. Duncan, J. and Gregory, D. 1999: Writes of passage: reading travel writing. In J. Duncan and D. Gregory, eds, Writes of passage. London and New York: Routledge, 1-13. Godlewska, A. 1995: Map, text and image: The mentality of enlightened conquerors. A new look at the Description de l\'Egypte. Transactions, Institute of British Geographers NS 20: 5-28. Greenblatt, S. 1991: Marvellous possessions: the wonder of the New World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Gregory, D. 1995: Between the book and the lamp: imaginative geographies of Egypt, 1849-50. Transactions, Institute of British Geographers NS 20: 29-57. Gregory, D. 1999: Scripting Egypt: Orientalism and the cultures of travel. In J. Duncan and D. Gregory, eds, Writes of passage. London and New York: Routledge, 114-50. Holland, P. and Huggan G. 1998: Tourists with typewriters: critical reflections on contemporary travel writing. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Jardine, N., Secord, J.A. and Spary, E.C., eds, 1996: Cultures of natural history. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. McEwan, C. 1996: Paradise or pandemonium? West African landscapes in the travel accounts of Victorian women. Journal of Historical Geography 22: 68-83. Melman, B. 1992: Women\'s Orients: English women and the Middle East 1718-1918. London: Macmillan. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. Miller, D. and Reill, P., eds, 1996: Visions of empire: voyages, botany and representations of nature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Mills, S. 1991: Discourses of difference: an analysis of women\'s travel writing and colonialism. London and New York: Routledge. Morgan, S. 1996: Place matters: gendered geography in Victorian women\'s travel books about Southeast Asia. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. Naylor, S. and Jones, G.A. 1997: Writing orderly geographies of distant places: the Regional Survey Movement and Latin America. Ecumene 4: 273-99. Ousby, I. 1990: The Englishman\'s England: travel, taste and the rise of tourism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pemble, J. 1987: The Mediterranean passion: Victorians and Edwardians in the South. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Phillips, R. 1997: Mapping men and Empire: a geography of adventure. London and New York: Routledge. Porter, D. 1991: Haunted journeys: desire and transgression in European travel writing. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Pratt, M.L. 1992: Imperial eyes: travel writing and transculturation. London and New York: Routledge. Smith, B. 1985: European vision and the South Pacific. New Haven: Yale University Press. Stafford, B. 1984: Voyage into substance: art, science, nature and the illustrated travel account 1760-1840. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Yarid, N. 1996: Arab travellers and Western civilization. London: Saqi Books.

Suggested Reading Duncan and Gregory (1999). Holland and Huggan (1998). Pratt (1992).



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