Despite the importance – and complex significations – of smell across most world cultures, the term does not feature in Williams's original volume or in New Keywords. The emergence of the sensory humanities has nevertheless asserted the importance of smell in cross-cultural enquiry (Classen et al. 1994; Drobnick 2006), with such studies providing a clear indication of the potential contribution to studies of travel writing. The term ‘smell’ – referring to odours emitted as well as to the sensory capacity and physiological mechanisms by which these are detected and processed – is more common than the formal ‘olfaction’, although the latter has the benefit of relative neutrality.
Mary Louise Pratt – in Imperial Eyes (1992) – was one of the first to explore the ocularcentrism of travel writing and the dominance of the genre by the gaze. As scholars of tourism have however suggested (e.g., Dann and Jakobsen 2003), although often culturally denigrated according to the sensory logic Pratt and others have described, aroma can be as important as vision in encapsulating the character of place. Smell can be associated closely with the memories of a location with which visitors are accompanied as they travel home, although the subtleties of olfactory memory tend to fade more swiftly than other forms and may as a result feature less often in retrospectively narrated travelogues. Smellscapes are nevertheless implicit through often fleeting detail in much travel writing, and relate to natural elements of both rural landscapes and cityscapes, the fauna and flora that inhabit them and various aspects of human culture (most notably cuisine, suggesting that there is often a clear overlap between the olfactory and the gustatory). Smell forewarns of dangers and delights to come, and is regularly associated with means of transport themselves, mechanized and other.
Herodotus is one of the first, in his Histories, to associate place and smell, but the traditional ocularcentrism of much Western travel writing has often led to a confirmation of cultural hierarchies of the senses within the genre: smellscapes encountered in the field of travel are often pushed to the background of descriptions, and also associated with the more abject ‘odour’ and its synonyms than with the relatively more pleasing ‘aroma’, ‘fragrance’ or ‘scent’. Visceral reactions to smells in the field of travel reflect the specific nature of the sense to which they relate.
Raymond Williams did not include ‘body’ as a keyword in either of the editions of his Keywords, although the corporeal is inevitably implicit across a range of the terms that he does discuss, including ‘human’, ‘man’ and ‘sex’. The concept is selected, however, for New Keywords in 2005, where an essay by Maureen McNeil underlines its importance in philosophical discussions (primarily as part of the mind-body split), as well as its key role in modern and contemporary debate (especially in the area of body politics).
The Oxford English Dictionary defines the body as the ‘complete physical form of a person or animal; the assemblage of parts, organs and tissues that constitutes the whole material organism’, and it is this physicality – in contrast to, for example, any emphasis on the soul – that is central to the term's status as a keyword in the study of travel writing. Other meanings of body – relating, for instance, to the ‘body’ of the text as opposed to paratextual elements such as maps and illustrations – are also relevant, and the functioning of the (dead) ‘body’ as a synonym of ‘corpse’ (from the French equivalent corps) can also be important in texts associated with particular forms of ‘extreme’ travel (Huggan 2009) or ‘dark tourism’.
Travel writing operates, however, as one of the most (if not the most) corporeal of literary genres (Bouvier 2000), and with several rare exceptions, the travelogue invariably describes – in its most pared back definition – the passage of the human body through place and space, with varying degrees of resistance and with various forms of assistance, mechanical or otherwise. It is consequently surprising that criticism of the form pays relatively sparse attention to analyses of the travelogue as a representation of the body in motion. The body is not only the vehicle thanks to which travel traditionally occurs (often as a result of self-propulsion, as with walking and cycling), and via which it is variously experienced and freighted. The limits of the body can also, at moments of exhaustion and dysfunction, serve as an impediment to the progress of the journey. Any celebration of physicality (or definition of travel in relation to figures of youth and health) is accordingly tempered with an awareness of the potential fallibility (or at least unpredictability) of the travelling body.
‘Disability’ does not feature among the keywords originally selected by Raymond Williams, but it is included as one of the terms for New Keywords in 2005. In the more recent collection, ‘disability’ is not only included as a discrete entry (Berubé 2005), but also features prominently in the discussion of ‘mobility’, where there is recognition that ‘the “differently abled” have become an increasingly vocal group who argue that better social policies would allow them greater mobility’ (Berland 2005, 218). The increasing recognition of ‘disability’ as a keyword in its own right is reflected in the publication of Keywords for Disability Studies (Adams et al. 2015). The term ‘disabled’ has existed in English since the late sixteenth century, often in its initial usage to refer to ships, meaning ‘incapacitated’ or ‘taken out of service’. Although it was used to refer to physical or mental conditions that limit movement, sensation or other physical capabilities from the same period, the Oxford English Dictionary notes that ‘disabled’ acquired its now standard meaning in the second half of the twentieth century, not least as its implications were recognized in legislation.
Given the emphasis of much travel writing on the body, physical exploits and access to remote locations (Forsdick 2015a), it might be argued that the genre has long manifested implicit disablist tendencies, marginalizing or even excluding those whose physical mobility is limited or whose sensory capacities are impaired. Recent evidence of a romanticized insistence on walking as an exemplary form of authentic, environmentally friendly, quintessentially human mobility has, it might be argued, potentially devalorizing implications for those who are confined to a wheelchair or rely on prosthetics for movement, and who do not, as a result, conform to a normative sense of able-bodiedness. While such patterns of exclusion might be evident in numerous travelogues (as well as in the criticism devoted to them), there is growing awareness that the failure to link studies in travel writing to disability studies represents a significant missed disciplinary rendezvous – and that there is in fact a substantial corpus of journey narratives, both past and present, produced by travellers with a variety of physical and sensory impairments (see also hearing and vision).
Keywords for Travel Writing Studies: A Critical Glossary is a collaborative and crossdisciplinary response to what might be described as the ‘mobility turn’ in the Arts and Humanities (Greenblatt 2010), as well as in the social sciences more generally (Sheller 2011). In recent decades, the study of travel has become increasingly recognized as a serious area of enquiry; the study of travel writing itself, while still relatively young, is also now fully acknowledged as a multidisciplinary critical practice in its own right. This volume suggests that embracing the concept of the keyword is a way of federating the diverse areas that the study of travel writing encompasses, providing a common lexicon while at the same time inviting a differential approach to the ways in which particular terms are variously deployed. When Raymond Williams first published his seminal work Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society in 1976, he stressed that it was ‘not a dictionary or glossary of a particular academic subject’. Instead, he described the intention to create ‘the record of an inquiry into a vocabulary: a shared body of words and meanings in our most general discussions, in English, of the practices and institutions which we group as culture and society’ (Williams 1988 , 15; emphases in the original). We have approached our own keywords project in very much the same way. Now that travel writing studies has reached a certain stage of disciplinary maturity, it seemed timely to reflect on the shared critical vocabulary that has emerged and is being used, adapted and reconsidered across a number of disciplines. Rather than ‘defining’ terms in any straightforward sense, what we and our contributors hope to do is to foster thoughtful consideration of the language and terminology we use collectively and in a variety of different contexts to express our ideas about the ways in which travellers write about their journeys.
We consider travel writing in its widest senses to designate the textual recording of a variety of practices of mobility, spontaneously in the field or retrospectively on the traveller's return, and as a form that lays bare the ways in which culture and cultural identities are fundamentally constituted by mobility (Clifford 1986, 96).
Emerging etymologically from Germanic roots, the term ‘hearing’ – relating to perception of sound via the ear, meaning both the sense that allows such auditory perception and the action of perceiving sound – has been in use for over a millennium, although the concept is an ancient one relating to human sonic interaction with other humans or their surroundings. Hearing has long been a source of fascination for philosophers, with thinkers ranging from Aristotle to Jean-Luc Nancy devoting important work to the subject (Bull and Back 2015). Specific references to the principal bodily senses are, however, absent from either edition of Williams's Keywords, although sensory perception is inevitably key (not least etymologically) to the discussion of ‘aesthetics’, the term with which the volume opens. ‘Taste’ is included by Williams but explored in terms of its metaphorical extension in order to betoken various degrees of discernment in intellectual, artistic and social matters. The sequel to Williams's volume, New Keywords, includes ‘audience’, etymologically associated with the experience of ‘hearing’, but understood more as a term to designate consumers of various forms of media and communication. ‘Hearing’ is, however, attracting increasing attention as a keyword in its own right, with Keywords in Sound (Novak and Sakakeeny 2015) including an entry on it and a series of cognate terms (including ‘acoustics’, ‘echo’, ‘noise’, ‘silence’, ‘voice’). The publication in Keywords for Disability Studies (Adams et al. 2015) of an essay on ‘deafness’ by Douglas C. Baynton underlines the growing interest in the impairment of this sense, a development that is as pertinent for studies in travel writing as it is for a series on other fields of enquiry.
Although travel writing has often been seen as a vehicle of ocularcentrism and the generalized cultural and ideological primacy of the gaze (Jay 1993; Pratt 1992), hearing nevertheless remains central to the form. The very title of Mary Louise Pratt's (1992, 206) Imperial Eyes underlines the hierarchies of the senses often evident in Western cultural production, a phenomenon she encapsulates in what she describes as the predominance of the visual in the ‘monarch-of-all-I-survey’ trope. The field of study known as the sensory humanities (Howes 2004, 2014) has, however, encouraged exploration of alternative understandings of the ways in which the senses filter the traveller's experience of space and place.
‘Taste’ appeared among the original keywords proposed by Raymond Williams, and was selected again for inclusion in New Keywords (2005). Williams (1976 , 308) focuses on the physical sense of the word, but points out that its meaning from the thirteenth century was much wider and closer to the modern terms ‘touch’ or ‘feel’. The current association with gustatory sensation and specifically the mouth emerged in the fourteenth century, although current scientific research shows an increased interest in the interdependence of the senses, and specifically the association of taste and smell. The term is double-edged, however, not only implying perception of the flavour of an item (most notably food) via the organs of taste, but also reflecting (from the eighteenth century onwards) forms of supposedly objective discernment and discrimination associated with what is deemed aesthetically pleasing in art and other areas of cultural production. The latter meaning might be associated with the important traveller/tourist dichotomy (Buzard 1993; Urbain 1993 ), with the traveller's (good) taste or tastefulness often contrasted with the more tawdry and tasteless appetites of tourism. Anti-tourism may therefore be seen – in the terms of Pierre Bourdieu (1984) – as an attempt to translate, via taste, class distinctions into the cultural capital relating to travel. As Williams (2014 , 310) presciently comments, ‘[T] he idea of taste cannot now be separated from the idea of the consumer.’ The entry in Keywords comments that – unlike other sense words with metaphorical uses such as ‘touch’ and ‘feel’ – the extended uses of ‘taste’ have been almost entirely abstracted from physical sensation, but it might nevertheless be argued that in the area of gastro-or enotourism, the ability to appreciate the flavours of indigenous produce represents the acme of good taste.
The specific focus on taste as a form of sensation is central to travel writing, notwithstanding the shifting semantics of the term discussed above. David Scott (2004) – exploring the place of taste in Claude Lévi-Strauss, Roland Barthes, Michel Leiris and Patrick Boman – describes ‘grammars of gastronomy’ evident in the travelogue, and taste is an integral part of many key anthropological texts, including work by Jack Goody and Claude Lévi-Strauss. Food and drink play a practical purpose too, providing fuel for the journey, especially when this depends on extremes of physical endurance.
The term ‘skin’, whose etymology leads back to the early Scandinavian, referred initially to the natural covering of an animal's body, removed and worked to serve a number of utilitarian purposes. The word also refers to the layer of tissue that constitutes the external container of the body in vertebrates, and, in this sense, it designates the largest organ on the human body, the dermatological cover that forms the principal point of contact between travellers and the field through which they move. Often protected with clothing and other forms of covering, skin can nevertheless be tanned, blistered, cut and scarred as a result of friction and other impact during the journey. The skin is also the page on which – through tattoos and other forms of marking – the traveller can inscribe traces of his or her itinerary, turning the body itself into a site of the travel narrative. A subgenre of the travelogue involves a more metaphorical understanding, foregrounding ‘getting into someone else's skin’ (Bird 2012), that is, achieving a degree of cultural transvestism associated with authors ranging from Pierre Loti to Alexandra David-Neel, from Richard Burton to Michel Vieuchange.
There is a need also to revert to one of the term's first meanings, to focus on other skins. As suggested above, those from animals serve additional purposes in the field of travel, for instance, acting as clothing, water carrier, purse or even shelter. In Bruce Chatwin's In Patagonia (1977), a fragment of Mylodon skin belonging to the narrator's grandmother (initially thought to be that of a Brontosaurus) even serves as the impetus for the journey, recalling ‘not only the Golden Fleece (the object of Jason's quest) but also Proust's madeleine, as an object inspiring memory’ (Cooke 2016, 22). Leather was also traditionally, on return, the means of binding the journey narrative into a book, and fixing the transformation of travel into text.
As suggested above, many travellers spend their journey minimizing the contact of their actual skin with the field through which they travel, protecting it from the extremes of heat and cold, and covering it from exposure to the elements. The epidermis is nevertheless the organ of touch, the means whereby the primary physical and haptic sensations of the journey are translated into the experience of travel.
Since its emergence as a recognizably modern practice in the early nineteenth century, tourism has been associated with a range of sub-practices, some of which are seen as forms of niche tourism (Novelli 2004). The postmodern era has, for example, witnessed the proliferation of various forms of ‘extreme pursuits’ (Huggan 2009), a number of which have linked tourism to sites of death, suffering and deprivation. Some forms of these practices have attracted widespread opprobrium for their perceived violation of ethical standards. ‘Slum tourism’ (Frenzel et al. 2012), involving, for example, visits to the townships of South Africa or the favelas of Brazil, is explored by Lydie Salvayre in Les Belles Âmes (2000), and may be seen as the contemporary manifestation of earlier, especially nineteenth-century urban journeys to witness abject poverty (Ross 2007; see also London 1903). ‘Disaster tourism’, that is, travel to sites of natural or man-made catastrophes, has also lent itself to creative engagement, such as in the photo-essay of Ambroise Tézenas (2014) or Andrew Blackwell's travelogue Visit Sunny Chernobyl (2012). Dark tourism is a more general umbrella concept for travel to sites, such as battlefields, prisons, slave forts and concentration camps, associated with death and suffering.
The term ‘dark tourism’ (also dubbed ‘thanatourism’ when it relates specifically to death) emerged in the 1990s in the work of several UK-based scholars of travel including Graham Dann, Malcolm Foley, John Lennon and Anthony Seaton (Foley and Lennon 1996; Seaton 1996; for an overview, see Asquith and Forsdick 2017; Light 2017; and Stone 2013). Much early work focused on typologies of the practice and explored the ways in which the heritage and leisure industries could adapt to a growing public appetite for this type of travel. Whereas Seaton saw historical continuity between contemporary dark tourism and early practices of thanatopsis (the contemplation of death; on this, see Seaton 1996), others have seen evidence of a predominantly postmodern phenomenon as Western societies respond to the medicalization and marginalization of death via this development in the leisure industry (Rojek 1993).
It is arguable that travel writing described dark tourist practices long before the phenomenon was identified with this term.
Keywords (Williams 2014 ) and its sequel New Keywords (Bennett et al. 2005) both fail to include ‘travel’ among their contents. The generic label ‘travel writing’ nevertheless yokes together this term, designating various forms of mobility, with another keyword relating to human communication and creativity. The meanings of each have evolved considerably, and belong to complex semantic fields, either closely policed or alternatively prised open to permit various meanings. Jacques Meunier (1992, 148) claims that splitting in two the word ‘écrivain-voyageur’ (travel writer) leaves not ‘travel’ and ‘writer’ as separate entities, but instead a dissected travel writer in which the two elements cannot be split. He suggests that travelling and writing are intertwined, interdependent and often indistinguishable activities (see also Butor 1972). To understand travel writing as a genre, however, there is a need to analyse each component keyword before exploring the implications of their intersections.
‘Travel’ first appeared in English in the fifteenth century, a derivation from ‘travail’, borrowed directly from the French to betoken bodily or intellectual labour as well as other forms of hardship and suffering (including childbirth). Although – in a title such as Gulliver's Travels – the word was also used elliptically to designate accounts of such journeying, its meaning has stabilized to describe acts of travelling, with elements of inherent exertion often foregrounded according to the term's etymological roots: ‘travel’ is linked – like ‘travail’ itself – to the ‘tripalium’, an instrument of torture made up of three stakes to which the victim would be tied and burnt with fire (Fussell 1980, 39). This focus on physical ordeal distinguishes ‘travel’ from its equivalent in other languages: the roots of ‘voyage’ in French, for instance, focus on the physical path of the journey itself rather than the physical effort required to follow it.
Recognizing a text as ‘travel writing’ depends on a confident understanding of what constitutes ‘travel’, and also of what distinguishes this activity from numerous other forms of displacement, notably ‘tourism’ (Buzard 1993; Urbain 1993). ‘Travel’ is also associated with various modifiers – ‘slow’ (see slowness), ‘extreme’, ‘dark’, ‘necessary’, ‘vertical’ – that reveal the practices with which it is linked and contexts in which it occurs.
‘Mobility’ does not appear in either of the original editions of Raymond Williams's Keywords, although the concept is implicit in a number of entries, not least ‘city’ and ‘country’, where the dynamics of rural exodus and urbanization are seen as major drivers in the formation of modern cultures and societies. The term is included, however, in New Keywords (Berland 2005), where it is one of several newly introduced cognate words – others include ‘diaspora’, ‘movements’ and ‘space’ – that betoken the increasing importance of various forms of mobility in social, political and cultural analysis. The term first appeared in the sixteenth century, describing, in the Latin phrase mobile vulgus, groups of people whose gathering was seen as threatening or dangerous – elements that continue to be reflected in the association of mobile populations with various forms of moral panic. New Keywords extends this etymology to bring the term up to date, stressing its current associations with questions of physical immobility and disability. A recent volume explores this range further by offering essays on a number of ‘keywords of mobility’ (Salazar and Jayaram 2016, 2), an acknowledgement that ‘[i] n many parts of the world, mobility is seen as an important way of belonging to today's society’.
Various forms of mobility – of which ‘travel’ may be seen as just one – are central to the genesis and production of travel writing. It is the traveller's mobility that distinguishes him or her from the ‘travellees’ met en route, although anthropologist James Clifford reminds us in his influential essay ‘Traveling Cultures’ (1997b) that no culture is in stasis, and that ‘travelling’ and ‘dwelling’ often exist in a complex and interdependent relationship. The assertion of the centrality of mobility to analyses of culture and society has been underlined by Mimi Sheller, John Urry and others, not least in the development of what they call the ‘new mobilities paradigm’ (Hannam et al. 2006).
Such an emphasis on mobility and movement is also an invitation to explore the ‘complex relational dynamics’ that link the phenomenon to immobility – and to the key questions regarding ‘who and what is demobilized and remobilized across many different scales, and in what situations mobility or immobility might be desired options, coerced, or paradoxically interconnected’ (Sheller 2011, 2).
On 16 March 2007, the ‘manifeste pour une littérature-monde en français’ appeared (appropriately given the title of the newspaper) in Le Monde des livres. This literary manifesto was largely the result of collaborative conversations between its four principal signatories, Alain Mabanckou, Michel Le Bris, Jean Rouaud, and Abdourahman Waberi, but was also endorsed by a further forty-one authors from throughout the French-speaking world. The document, although heavily criticized immediately on its publication, has proved to be the most prominent of a number of literary manifestos published in French in recent years. Several Caribbean signatories, from Guadeloupe, Haiti, and Martinique, associated themselves with the manifesto, and, as such, the document continues the important work of the Étonnants voyageurs festival, in Saint Malo as well as in satellite locations such as Port-au-Prince, of supporting Caribbean literature in French and of bringing it to the attention of a wider readership. Among these signatories was an author and intellectual whose own conception of the Tout-Monde may be seen as the most prominent inspiration for the hyphenated yoking together of littérature and monde proposed by the manifesto as a means of moving beyond the restrictions of national literature and towards a recognition of globalized cultural production in the French language (see Glissant 1993; 1997). By associating himself with the document, Édouard Glissant afforded the patronage provided by his standing as elder statesman of Francophone Caribbean letters. Glissant was already by that stage acknowledged as a postcolonial passeur—i.e., as a figure central to a specifically Francophone poetics, but one who at the same time, through translation into English and visibility in the Anglophone world, had simultaneously played a key role in the development of the field of enquiry known as postcolonialism. This was despite, of course, his rejection of any such connection, as Glissant commented in the collection of interviews with Lise Gauvin published shortly before his death: ‘Je ne me sens pas un post-colonialiste, parce que je suis dans une histoire qui ne s'arrête pas’ (2010: 65). He was also, through his long-standing exploration of Relation and subsequent commitment to exploring a mondialité that would provide an alternative to principally economic notions of globalization, one of the most prominent thinkers of world systems, and as a result well-suited to involvement in debates on the global dimensions of literary production.
Celui qui vous dit ‘Gorée est une île’
Celui-là a menti
Cette île n'est pas une île
Elle est continent de l'esprit.
Just less than half a mile away from the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool's Albert Dock, in the shadow of the buildings on the Pier Head known as the Three Graces, is a sign for the area known as the Gorée Piazza. This was originally the site of the Gorée Warehouses, built in 1793 and demolished in the late 1940s after they had suffered significant damage during the Second World War. In his semi-autobiographical novel Ultramarine (2005 ), the Wirral-born poet and novelist Malcolm Lowry alludes to a local tradition according to which the iron hoops on the walls here had once been used to restrain the enslaved. He writes of the ‘Goree Piazzas where they used to chain the slaves: Father showed me a bill of lading for one before he went mad’ (Lowry, 2005: 67). This reference has more to do with legend than with history, for by the time the Gorée Warehouses were built, the Somersett case of 1772 had already established a pre-abolitionist precedent according to which, in theory at least, any enslaved Africans who reached England could not be removed from the country against their will (Nadelhaft, 1966).
Irrespective of the historical veracity, the naming of this site nevertheless relates directly to Gorée Island, a centre of slave embarkation off the coast of Dakar in Senegal, with which slave traders and sailors of the time would have been familiar. The continued and problematic presence of Gorée in the cityscape of central Liverpool encapsulates the central thesis of this chapter: that Gorée, through a series of representations including fictions, films and political speeches, has long been unmoored from the West African coast, having been granted a symbolic existence in a wider Black Atlantic space. In the terms of Kinsey A. Katchka, ‘“Gorée” is no longer a uniquely historical location, but an historical abstraction that can be relocated elsewhere’ (2004: 3). Developing the logic of such an observation, Jean-Louis Roy, in the epigraph cited above, elevates the island to the status of a ‘continent de l'esprit’ [‘continent of the spirit’].
How can it be permissible to say ‘you must remember’, hence speak of memory in the imperative mood, although it is characteristic of memory to emerge as a spontaneous evocation?
There exists not one memory but many, varied memories of the slave trade and of slavery. They were not formed in the same way in Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyana, Reunion, Africa, Madagascar and in France, and it is essential to study the different ways they came about. This work has begun but there is still much to do.
In the recent history of French republicanism, the victory of France – as the host nation – in the 1998 World Cup provides a remarkable case study for those interested in questions of belonging, of inclusion and exclusion, and of the construction and policing of national identity. The presentation of the culturally and ethnically diverse French team as the modern nation in miniature now seems prematurely celebratory, especially in light of subsequent events on and off the football pitch. There is no denying, however, that the 1998 World Cup permitted discussion, often hitherto obscured, of what commentators have dubbed the ‘colonial fracture’ at the heart of French society. It allowed, at the same time, the politicization of key players in the team, a number of whom subsequently became prominent public voices on issues of racism and the contemporary legacies of slavery in France and the French-speaking world. This latter shift is significant, for in addition to hosting the World Cup, France also commemorated in 1998 the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the French colonial empire.
In his 2010 book Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France, Laurent Dubois focuses on key moments in which these two ostensibly very different sets of events collided. A commemorative T-shirt produced in 1998 featured an image of one of the major lieux de mémoire of slavery in the French Atlantic: the maison des esclaves (house of slaves) on Gorée island, in Senegal.
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