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Travelling Africa: A Woman's Trek from the Cape to Cairo

Easton, Kai (2007) Travelling Africa: A Woman's Trek from the Cape to Cairo. In: University of Sussex, Centre for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies seminar, 18 April 2007, University of Sussex. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

The title of Mary Hall's travelogue, A Woman's Trek from the Cape to Cairo (London: Methuen, 1907) suggests an arduous journey by foot by a woman on her own. It also suggests that we will learn something of the Cape and Cairo. But these two key sites are only marginal as it turns out - noteworthy enough to be mentioned, but of little interest to Hall, because of their proximity, in character, to Europe. Hall describes her comfortable travel in the introductory pages - by train, boat, and Cape cart; and she informs us that the African Lakes Corporation will supply her with a staff and camping equipment, taking her as far as Lake Tanganyika. It is this area - the 'less known country' of Stanley and Livingstone's Central Africa - that truly interests her. How then does the 'Cape-to-Cairo imaginary' - as Peter Merrington has called (2001) the imperial dream of Cecil Rhodes - play itself out in the narrative of this woman travelling across Africa, and 'alone' into the interior? If we compare it to the account of her male predecessors - Ewart Grogan and Arthur Sharp - the first Englishmen who actually trekked from the Cape to Cairo, can we identify, as Sara Mills (1991) has questioned, 'a specifically female genre of travel writing?' And what about, as the geographers Duncan and Gregory remind us, the physicality of travel?

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Items (Paper)
Keywords: Mary Hall, British women travellers, Cecil Rhodes, machilla, gender, travel, Empire, A Woman's Trek from the Cape to Cairo
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies
Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Centre for Gender Studies
Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa
Regional Centres > Centre of African Studies
Depositing User: Kai Easton
Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2010 10:38
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/9815

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