Writing Travel/Travelling Writing: Roland Barthes Detours the Orient

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This paper offers a contribution to the recent emergence in geography of studies of travel writers and the production of other representations of the non-Western world. I consider a rather different text to those normally studied in that the book, Empire of Signs by Barthes, purports not to represent any real place. A number of writers, influenced by Said's pathbreaking work Orientalism, have considered whether Barthes perpetuates Orientalist images. Rather than structure my argument around the binary of Orientalist/not-Orientalist I will consider the ways that Barthes subverts the structure of Orientalism from within. Barthes counterfeits travel: playing with the concept of ‘wonder' which halted the representational language of more conventional travellers. Through the construction of his own ‘hyper-Orientalist' account, Barthes produces a poststructural ethics which I argue offers some important reflections on the politics of representation both of travel writing and of academic critiques of it.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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