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Travelling objects: modernity and materiality in British Colonial travel literature about Africa
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study examines the functions of objects in a selection of British colonial travel accounts about Africa. The works discussed were published between 1863 and 1908 and include travelogues by John Hanning Speke, Verney Lovett Cameron, Henry Morton Stanley, Mary Henrietta Kingsley, Ewart Scott Grogan, Mary Hall and Constance Larymore. The author argues that objects are deeply involved in the construction of pre-modern and modern spheres that the travelling subject moves between. The objects in the travel accounts are studied in relation to a contextual background of Victorian commodity and object culture, epitomised by the 1851 Great Exhibition and the birth of the modern anthropological museum. The four analysis chapters investigate the roles of objects in ethnographical and geographical writing, in ideological discussions about the transformative powers of colonial trade, and in narratives about the arrival of the book in the colonial periphery. As the analysis shows, however, objects tend not to behave as they are expected to do. Instead of marking temporal differences, descriptions of objects are typically unstable and riddled with contradictions and foreground the ambivalence that characterises colonial literature.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå University. Department of Language Studies , 2011. , 262 p.
Umeå studies in language and literature, 15
, Umeå Studies in Language and Literature, 15
Keyword [en]
travel literature, Africa, modernity, materiality, material objects, things, commodity form, commodity culture, postcolonialism, Homi Bhabha, museums, exhibitions, colonialism, geography, space, trade, ethnography, the book, ambivalence, subject-object relations, fetishism, John Speke, Verney Cameron, Henry Stanley, Mary Kingsley, Ewart Grogan, Constance Larymore, Mary Hall
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Specific Languages
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-46365ISBN: 978-91-7459-275-7OAI: diva2:437963
Public defence
2011-09-24, Humanisthuset, Hörsal E, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2011-09-02 Created: 2011-08-31 Last updated: 2016-05-10Bibliographically approved

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Hållen, Nicklas
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