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11 - Noncolonial Orientalism? Czech Travel Writing on Africa and Asia around 1918

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 December 2013

James Hodkinson
Affiliation:
Associate Professor in German Studies at Warwick University.
John Walker
Affiliation:
Senior Lecturer in European Cultures and Languages at Birkbeck College, University of London.
Shaswati Mazumdar
Affiliation:
Professor in German at the University of Delhi.
Johannes Feichtinger
Affiliation:
Researcher at the Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften.
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Summary

I. Introduction

When in 1927 the Czech Egyptologist Ludmila Matiegková (1889–1960) set out with fellow travel companions for Egypt to marvel at its ancient culture, she was confronted with her role as a tourist, a European, a woman, a scholar, and a Czech. Even though her published travelogue did not explicitly discuss her national identity or what it meant to be a Czech in Cairo, it still produced an implicit and ambivalent picture of Czech identity in a colonial setting: while Ludmila Matiegková painted a picture of the “magic of the Orient” that seems to reproduce general orientalist topoi, she distanced herself at the same time from those with whom she shared these figures of thought, namely, European colonial society in Egypt.

This ambivalent position, present in Czech travelogues from across the so-called Orient, will be at the center of this chapter as it discusses a form of orientalism that is not based on direct or explicit colonial interests or overseas possessions. It argues, rather, for a “noncolonial orientalism”: by concentrating on Czech travelers and their travelogues on the Orient in the five decades surrounding the end of the First World War and the founding of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918, the chapter reconstructs a specific mode of “orientalizing” the Orient, which occurred outside of any direct colonial power relations.

Type
Chapter
Information
Deploying Orientalism in Culture and History
From Germany to Central and Eastern Europe
, pp. 209 - 227
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2013

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