Professor Uma Kothari (University of Manchester, United Kingdom) is presenting a seminar at The University of Melbourne’s School of Geography Seminar Series on 28 March 2017, titled ‘Encountering Europe Otherwise: Postcolonial Travellers in the 1950s’.
Date: Tuesday 28 March 2017
Location: Theatre 2, Basement, 221 Bouverie St, Carlton
With adventure, exploration and travel primarily conceived of as a Euro-American privilege, travellers in the past were identified as those who embarked on voyages motivated by imperial, educational, scientific and recreational imperatives. Empire tourism, a specific form of travel that emerged to enable western tourists to experience the landscapes, sites and people written about by earlier travellers, subsequently fueled the production of colonial imaginaries about other people and places. These travel stories, along with academic accounts, have entrenched highly Eurocentric theories about tourism and travel. As such, non-European travellers, though far from unusual, remain largely absent from historical accounts, other than those that focus on forcibly moved colonised people. This paper challenges this privileging of western tourists and dominant narratives of travel, by focusing on postcolonial, non-western travel and tourism. Drawing on an extended road trip from England to India undertaken by two non-European, Indian travellers in the 1950s, the paper highlights the entangled relationships and connections that generated the encounters, experiences and understandings that emerged during their journey. A swirl of larger historical events and processes marked the time in which they travelled, when distinctive alliances were being wrought and others were diminishing. As such, their trip, which took place in a specific geo-political and decolonising context, illuminates shifting colonial imaginaries and the forging of new postcolonial networks.