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Title: The inscription of self and culture in British narratives of travel and exploration in Africa 1850-1900.
Author: Youngs, Timothy David.
ISNI:       0000 0001 0891 6433
Awarding Body: Nottingham Polytechnic
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 1991
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This thesis exarranes several British narratives of travel and exploration in East and central Africa from 1850 to 1900. It draws upon recent ideas fran colonial discourse and ethnographic criticism concerning the representation of people from other cuI tures . However, it brings to these approaches a more historical framework than they are usually given and a closer attention to literary structures and tropes. I argue that racial ideology changes ln response to, and reflects, changes in the material circumstances of the culture which the self inhabits. I further maintain that the literary expression of racial ideology must be considered in the light of developments in literary style and structure more generally, which are, in turn, responses to social changes. Chapter I looks at a variety of travellers to Abyssinia and shows how conceptions of that country shift according to political and social phenomena in Britain. The chapter pivots on an ex~nation of the little-known 1867 military expedition against Abyssinia. The movement I trace is from a late survival of the romantic idea of the noble savage in 1853, through a hardening of attitudes with the military expedition, followed by a nostalgic and false attempt late in the century to recreate a romantic, but feudal view. Chapter II considers several travellers to East and Central Africa and, through close attention to their attitudes towards writing and publishing, and toward the role of objects and canoodi ties they take with them, suggests that a deep tmease about their own social identity can be tmcovered. Africa and Africans are regarded by the travellers ~n ways that reflect their own tensions and are written about by them in ways that attempt to resolve these. Chapter III takes descriptions of African eating habits and argues that Britons' fascinated disgust at the lack of mediating utensils, at the eating of raw meat, and at inrnediate gratification, is a means of justifying to themselves the increasing distance between producers and consumers in the second hal f of the nineteenth century. Marmers assume rrore importance too as the lines between the social classes becane blurred. The complex structures of capitalism mean that civilisation is increasingly defined by its distance from nature. Africans eating are seen by the West as nature at its rrost bestial. And it allows the Victorians to forget about the extent of food adulteration in their towns. Chapters IV and V consider, respectively, the production and consumption of narratives of Stanley's expedition to relieve ~n Pasha. Those who have written about the expedition have failed to ex~ne it in the context of late nineteenth-century art and politics, which both point to a division between language and experience. The arguments about heroism and personal and national conduct must, I argue, be seen against this background. My approach presents reactions to the expedition in its cultural context, which previous carrnentators have failed to do. And I offer it as proof of my thesis that l.mages of Africa, of the other, change as British conditions change, but that the need to use the images for self-definition does not. My argument is supported by my methodology: an interdisciplinary approach, readings with a knowledge of which combines close critical theory and textual colonial discourse theory, but also with historical knowledge and original research in archives. I have offered new material and a way of studying both travel writing and the representation of other cultures.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Anthropology