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Title: How the 'seraphic' became 'geographic': women travellers in West Africa, 1840-1915
Authors: McEwan, Cheryl
Keywords: West Africa
British Empire
Issue Date: 1995
Publisher: © Cheryl McEwan
Abstract: This thesis brings together two important developments in contemporary geography; firstly, the recognition of the need to write critical histories of geographical thought and, particularly, the relationship between modern geography and European imperialism, and secondly, the attempt by feminist geographers to countervail the absence of women in these histories. Drawing on recent innovative attempts by geographers to construct alternative, contextual perspectives in (re)writing histories of geographical thought, the thesis analyzes the travel narratives of British women travellers in West Africa between 1840 and 1915. Recent attempts by feminists to include women in histories of geography and imperialism have, all too often, failed to analyze critically the role of women in imperial culture, or have reproduced gender dichotomies in their analysis. This thesis seeks to overcome these problems in three ways. Firstly, it explores the contributions of women travellers to imperial culture, primarily through their production of popular geographies. Secondly, it analyzes the ways in which these women were empowered in the imperial context by virtue of both race and class. Thirdly, it frames the accounts of each woman within the specific spatial and temporal context of their journeys in order to explore the complexities in the popular geographies they produced. The thesis illustrates that while gender was an important factor in the construction of images in the travel narratives of Victorian women travellers, this cannot be divorced from the wider context of their journey, nor from other elements in power relations based on difference such as race and class. Using this framework, the study explores in detail the production of popular geographies of the landscapes and peoples of West Africa by British women travellers, and formulates an argument on how women and their experiences can be included in histories of geographical thought.
Description: A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/7006
Appears in Collections:PhD Theses (Geography and Environment)

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