Cultural Diversity as a Safeguard against Static Identity in Mary Kingsley's Travels in West Africa and West African Studies

Bechir Chaabane

Abstract


Travel is not unsusceptible to the ideology in force  since  its  journey and focal incidents are shaped by the spirit of the era. During the Victorian age, travel writing sponsored the imperial expansion by providing new markets for the British products especially in sub-Saharan Africa. In this aura, Africans  are often  presented as primitive, lacking history and culture. Unconventionally, Mary Kingsley gives the lie to this representation by exposing Africa as a land of cultural diversity and Africans as heterogeneous people with cultural specificities. The eminence of the cultural difference in the African society is strategically placed by Kingsley to point at the static and second-class identity imposed on Victorian women in 19th century. Approaching the native African culture differently can be read as a hedge against the static identity imposed on Victorian women at home.


Keywords


travel writing, Africa, Victorian age, cultural diversity, religion, spirituality, identity.

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