Travel writing

Authored by: Astrid Haas

The Routledge Handbook to the Culture and Media of the Americas

Print publication date:  March  2020
Online publication date:  March  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138479821
eBook ISBN: 9781351064705
Adobe ISBN:


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Known since antiquity, travel writing has not only enjoyed great popularity in the West, but it has also played a crucial role in the cultural history of the Americas since the late 15th century. Although recordings of pre-contact indigenous travels in the Americas exist (see e.g. Boone 1994), the travelogue as a literary genre was introduced to the region by the European colonizers (→ Conquest and Colonization, I/7). It has since been catering to the desire of broadening audiences for geographic and cultural knowledge of unfamiliar places and peoples, for economic, socio-political, or strategic information, as well as for entertainment through captivating stories (Blanton 2002, 7–29). Increasingly diverse, though predominantly Eurocentric for most of its history, the genre has contributed to formulating and circulating hegemonic concepts and “imagined geographies” (Said 1995, 55, 71) of “America” (Rabasa 1993; Mignolo 2005) that inform public discourses, knowledge, and power relations to this day (→ America, I/2).

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