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Title: Postcolonial Travel Writing and Postcolonial Theory
Author(s): Edwards, Justin D.
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Editor(s): Clarke, R
Citation: Edwards JD (2018) Postcolonial Travel Writing and Postcolonial Theory. In: Clarke R (ed.). Cambridge Companion to Postcolonial Travel Writing. Cambridge Companions to Literature, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 19-32.
Keywords: Travel writing
postcolonial literature
postcolonial theory
Issue Date: 1-Jan-2018
Series/Report no.: Cambridge Companions to Literature
Abstract: First paragraph: In recent scholarship, the convergence of the words postcolonial, travel and writing has led to a series of debates that revolve around, but are not limited to, the representation of otherness, the power of speaking of and for a foreign culture, as well as the hierarchies embedded in discourses of difference. For some theorists and critics, travel writing is a genre that can never truly free itself from its colonial heritage and, from this perspective, it will always remain a neo-colonial mode that reproduces a dominant North Atlantic idea of ‘civilization’ from which travel writers continue to consolidate a privileged position by classifying, evaluating and passing judgment on other parts of the world. For other postcolonial writers and theorists, the genre of travel writing has the potential to embrace revisionist, critical and subversive narratives, political positions and innovative modes of representation. From this perspective, travel texts can convey accounts that defy colonial discourses and challenge the politics of empire by approaching the experience of travel from a postcolonial angle and embrace new ways of telling the story of travel to foreign locations. Following this narrative trajectory, some of the innovative texts produced by postcolonial travel writers enable us to re-think the nature of the genre as well as its political, aesthetic and ethical potential. This chapter examines these debates by exploring the major scholarly work on travel writing by postcolonial theorists and literary critics. But it also examines several postcolonial travel texts to reflect on how the traveller and his or her discourses have contributed to the debates in postcolonial studies.
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