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Cultures of Travel: Cape Diasporas and Zoe Wicomb's Playing in the Light

Easton, Kai (2010) Cultures of Travel: Cape Diasporas and Zoe Wicomb's Playing in the Light. In: The Cape & the Cosmopolitan: Reading Zoe Wicomb, 8-10 April 2010, University of Stellenbosch, Dept of English. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

What are the theoretical implications of my title? How easily can we translate cultures of 'travel' together with 'diaspora'? What ‐ exactly ‐ does 'diaspora' mean and how does it relate to ‐ or negate ‐ ideas of 'travel'? Of origins, home and belonging, journeys and returnings? While our interest in travel and diasporic cultures is increasing in the arts and humanities, we still seem to separate the two terms, even while our definitions are ‐ appropriately enough ‐ fluid. James Clifford refers to them as 'translation terms', to work and 'overwork', strategically, adaptively, contingently. For in academia and the media our distinctions are often generic, nationalised, racialised ‐ boxed into categories. There are of course a multitude of what Marjorie Garber has called 'category crossings', for travel writing is certainly not limited to the 'imperial gaze' that we read about in Mary Louise Pratt's seminal book, Imperial Eyes. This is the framework for a discussion of a fictional response to some of these questions. How does Wicomb (a South African, long resident in Scotland) challenge colonial images of travel? This paper will address the relevance of the discourses of travel and diaspora to Wicomb's fiction and will show how the cosmopolitan reach of her writing, like that of J. M. Coetzee, has much to say about the history of 'travel' ‐ in its most expansive sense ‐ at the Cape of Good Hope.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Items (Paper)
Keywords: Cape (Western Cape, Cape Province, Cape Colony, Cape Town), cosmopolitan, Zoe Wicomb, South African writing and history
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 10:44
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/9818

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