Ethical Gender Implications of Considering Travel Writing as a Form of Cultural Interpretation
With the advent of globalization and liberalization, there has been a massive increase in tourism and travel activity, and simultaneously, there has also been an increase in the number of people who are eager to lap up travel literature (Holland and Huggan, 2000). Travel writings work to provide useful and interesting information to the reader and may create a desire to experience the destinations. Travel writings may also bring out greater insight and understanding about the world and its inhabitants and create a more tolerant outlook for the readers to adopt.
However, several researchers and critiques have highlighted the fact that most of the travel writing available today fall in a distinct category of serving the white, male-dominated middle-class heterosexual reader class (Holland and Huggan, 2000. Pratt, 2007. Porter, 1991. and Spurr, Fish and Jameson, 1993). This implies that all travel writing is tainted with the perspective of a Western cultural outlook and that there is little scope for the authentic and pure representation of those who are written-about to emerge.
The current paper, therefore, intends to assess if travel writing can actually bridge the gap between those who are represented and those who write about them. It will answer questions like “Is it possible that travel writers are able to take into account their own ethical and gender-related orientations and present an unbiased picture of those that they are writing about?” and also, “as a genre, can travel writing be seen as a form of cultural interpretation?”. The methodology used for the current paper is to discuss the work of various scholars and researchers, who have reviewed travel writing and commented on its applicability as an instrument of cultural interpretation.
As mentioned in the introduction, several scholars have assessed the travel writings over the years and have arrived at the conclusion that most of the travel write-ups are Western-oriented and written with the mindset of ‘us’ Vis a Vis the explored culture. .