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Title: Not nearly so far : three journeys in South East Europe : with, Encountering problems : conceptualisations of culture in travel writing on Albania
Author: Phillips, Tom
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2013
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Albania has long been considered one of Europe’s ‘least-known’ countries. In two complementary pieces of work, I consider this reputation ill relation to my own travelling experiences in Albania (and other South East European countries) and to its representation in English language travel writing since 1945. The autobiographical travel narrative Not Nearly So Far recounts episodes from three journeys in South East Europe which I made with my family in 2006, 2009 and 2012. Focusing on encounters with individuals — waiters, entrepreneurs, archaeologists, farmers — and cultural phenomena (including Albania’s bunker network and customary law), it traces my changing and necessarily partial perceptions of people, places and circumstances over the course of a period when South East Europe itself was changing rapidly. The accompanying critical study, Encountering Problems, develops the theme of encounter by identifying how different approaches to the conceptualisation of culture can distort, interrupt or even prevent responsive engagement with phenomena such as Albania’s bunker network and customary law. In particular, I draw a distinction between templated and symbolic models of culture and connect the former with problematic discourses such as Balkanism and Ostism. However, in prioritising the view of culture as a symbolic economy, I also acknowledge that the template model has advantages for the representation of complex phenomena in travel writing and contend that, rather than being mutually exclusive, the two conceptual frameworks are interdependent. Coming to an understanding of another culture as a symbolic economy may require first encountering it through the medium provided by a templating mentality.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available