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Travelers, Immigrants, Inmates

Travelers, Immigrants, Inmates: Essays in Estrangement

FRANCES BARTKOWSKI
Copyright Date: 1995
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 216
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttt2dh
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  • Book Info
    Travelers, Immigrants, Inmates
    Book Description:

    Uses travel writings, U.S. immigrant autobiographies, and concentration camp memoirs to illustrate how tales of dislocation present readers with a picture of the complex issues surrounding mistaken identities. Bartkowski's elegantly written and incisive book stands at the crossroads of contemporary thought in cultural studies and ethnicity, race and gender, nationalism, and the politics and poetics of identity.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8555-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Who Speaks?
    (pp. xiii-xiv)

    Consider this an exercise in translation—reconstituting in another medium that which is elsewhere. That is, a working with and through what is already absent, long gone. If origins and the search for them haunt the epistemological efforts of earlier centuries, we in our late-twentieth-century wisdom, with our indefatigable interrogation of identities in embodied times and spaces, are busy mapping their irremediable loss, their dispersion in place and history.

    In my work here a question that drives me circles out of and away from Europe, scattering my knowledge and concerns, but also shaping them in some of the following ways....

  5. Travel as/is...
    (pp. xv-xxviii)

    Opening a book is like opening a door. We don’t know what awaits us across the threshold, unless we’ve been there before. What I’ll do in this book is read some stories of encounters at crossroads: people in places and the knowledge they acquire as they interact there. They do not know each other. They are strangers, and at least one of them is not at home. The telling of these tales is captured best for my purposes in the Andersen classic, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” and the scenario involving the reigning adult and the finger-pointing child; imagine the figure...

  6. Seduction by Elsewhere

    • Time and the Traveler: Victor Segalen’s Exoticism
      (pp. 5-17)

      Victor Segalen missed meeting Paul Gauguin in Tahiti by three months. The painter’s death, in fact, cast a certain shadow over Segalen’s sense of exploring recently left traces, walking in Gauguin’s steps, as it were.¹ For Victor Segalen, theorist of the exotic, the above passage from the notebooks of Paul Gauguin, one of the exotic’s exemplary practitioners, merits close attention for its rather distilled rhetorical contextualizing of that discourse of exoticism that Segalen, and even we, have inherited. It is a legacy of which Segalen is already suspicious, but that he inhabits thoroughly. Our historical distance and the skepticism we...

    • Seeing Is Believing: André Gide’s Voyage to the Congo, Roland Barthes’s Empire of Signs, and Michel Butor’s Mobile
      (pp. 18-34)

      We are to read discourses of alterity and identity differentially, through lenses that are at least bifocal. From the prism to the hologram, the metaphors are inevitably optic ones, refractions of light caught in motion, held still long enough to catch a glimpse of what occurs in the mirrors of subjectivity. Theorists in the field of film studies, another template for modern and postmodern subjective optics, have done a great deal of work on questions of spectatorship, and film theory has done much to reengage narrative as an activity impelled by productive forces far beyond those controlled by a single...

    • Voodoo and Fetish: Zora Neale Hurston’s Tell My Horse and Mary Kingsley’s Travels in West Africa
      (pp. 35-48)

      What are the gendered optics of imperial seeing? We have presumed that the one in the royal garb was male, and the child ungendered—that is, by default male. But what takes place when the imperial subject is feminine, a woman? In a colonial or postcolonial context we might begin to see how a model of seduction, rather than conquest, allows for a more gender-inflected specification of power relations in an alien scene. As Mary Louise Pratt so pointedly puts it inImperial Eyes,“As a woman she is not to see but be seen, or at least she is...

  7. Heartless Travelers

    • Among Camels and Women: Elias Canetti’s Voices of Marrakesh
      (pp. 53-62)

      “Good travellers are heartless,” says Elias Canetti, recounting his visit to Morocco and providing an axiom for this portion of my exploration of relations to elsewhere. If, as has been suggested, knowledge, “to avoid the circularity of ideology, must read the processes of differentiation, not look for differences,”¹ then let us take the case of Canetti in Marrakesh as an instance where languages of many sorts are summoned to capture the writer’s losing and finding the self in the foreign scene. Because Canetti shares no native language with the locals and shares only a foreign language, French, with those who...

    • Casablanca Revisited: Caryl Phillips’s The European Tribe
      (pp. 63-71)

      In this chapter I explore some of the changes rung on the figure of the young European white man on the grand tour when that young man is Caryl Phillips, black-skinned, born in the Caribbean, raised and educated in England, and traveling to the Continent and North Africa for the first time. Phillips’s own speculations on his formation through the effects of European racism will be briefly juxtaposed with the work of Frantz Fanon, who, as a revolutionary and a psychiatrist, theorized some of the knots of race and madness. Both Fanon and Phillips are well aware of the operations...

    • From Snakes to Ice: Tété-Michel Kpomassie’s An African in Greenland
      (pp. 72-82)

      Reversing the conventional geographical polarities of the young man setting out on the grand tour is the account published in English in 1983 by Tété-Michel Kpomassie,An African in Greenland.As its title makes plain, this is a travel narrative of desire and transgression that borrows from the seeingman trope and sets it askew. Kpomassie is not the first black man to set out for the North Pole; Admiral Peary’s companion, Matt Henson, holds that place in cultural history. But he may be the first contemporary African citizen who comes to stay in the northernmost reaches of the earth out...

  8. From Travelers to Ethnics; or, Looking for America

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 83-90)

      Imagine the first two substantives of this title as ends of a spectrum along which we might locate the prismatic effects of identities formed in circumstances of dislocation—the traveler, dislocated by choice, so to speak, and the ethnic at some personalhistorical moment dislocated by force. The metaphor of a spectrum is crucial because it opens a range for speculation about processes of differentiation without suggesting a telos. There is mobility to identity across this spectrum that is arrayed not as a color chart, but a prism. To move from travel writing to the immigrant genre shifts the theoretical figure...

    • Going North: Zora Neale Hurston’s Dust Tracks on a Road
      (pp. 91-100)

      Zora Neale Hurston Zora Neale Hurston is widely acknowledged as occupying a place in American and African-American letters that is unique from many perspectives. One of those is her early childhood in Eatonville, Florida, a town governed by and for black people. Hurston’s much-debated autobiography may be productively read as a contribution to the immigrant genre and its tales of crossing cultural borders. Eatonville will provide Hurston with a context much different than the America she will find elsewhere. Hurston is determined to make her way in the (outside) world in ways that resonate with the passion and cultural confusions...

    • “Where Do You Live?” Sandra Cisneros’s House on Mango Street
      (pp. 101-108)

      In the autobiographical narrative of ethnic identity formation a thoroughly articulated position in relation to the past and future of the self often surfaces. The traveler, ethnographer, or anthropologist, no matter her relation to her subjects of study, is in a position of having chosen her place, her routes, her questions. The displaced autobiographer finds herself dislocated and needs to blaze a trail that will lead her out of an imposed, not chosen loss of place and self. However, the traveler and the autoethnographer will share the desire to make the writing of their displacement lead them to a reshaped...

    • Careless Baptisms: Eva Hoffman’s Lost in Translation
      (pp. 109-118)

      Eva Hoffman’s 1989 memoir serves as an example of a highly self-conscious study in living on borderlines, as do many other recent autobiographical texts by women and postcolonials. Hoffman’s stance in her text, that of the outsider, makes it possible to read this work, plainly one of passage through identities, as speaking the language of the ethnic, the traveler, and the survivor. What Hoffman must learn to do, she acknowledges in the closing pages, is give up the position of outsider and let herself live in the language that has nevertheless become her when once it had fit so badly....

  9. Survival Elsewhere

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 119-126)

      Just as we “know” language in its inadequacy, it is all we have as a medium of translation between and among speakers and subjects (and subjectivities). And just as we “know” identity formation to be a naming that dispossesses as often as it confers being or meaning, still it is the process through which we learn to inhabit a variety of subject and pronomial positions. To enter into language is both to gain and to lose meaning—to risk recognition of a partial kind and cede a sense of being that may seem full but remains inchoate, inarticulate. It is...

    • Speaking Memory: Charlotte Delbo’s None of Us Will Return
      (pp. 127-139)

      In her memoir, Charlotte Delbo laments the survival of memory at Auschwitz from the time before, as she sits writing at a café table in Paris, years later, where the lamentation is rather for the memories of her internment—memories that refuse to recede in time. Delbo’s memoir forms the centerpiece of this chapter, but I will also be drawing on her playWho Will Carry the Word?and two oral histories by other survivors of Auschwitz.

      Before the Nazi occupation of France, Delbo had been studying philosophy and working in the theater with Louis Jouvet, a film actor and...

    • Time and the Other Laid Bare: Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz and Liana Millu’s Smoke over Birkenau
      (pp. 140-155)

      To speak about identities in formation in situations of dislocation and not to speak about the testimonies of life in the Nazi concentration camps, those ephemerally forged sites of homelessness and displacement in the mid-twentieth century, would be to overlook the textual evidence of what tattered selves insist on weaving into some kind of cloth, if not whole, at least one providing a minimum of cover, warmth. We come back finally to the denuded emperor—or to one of his most eloquent if also most abject subjects.

      In all of Primo Levi’s works we are witness to a thinker who...

    • Speaking of Travel...
      (pp. 156-158)

      In opening this book, I spoke about the mapping of identities through their dispersion in place and time. Questions about the marks of memory are persistent in postmodernity. What I have written here are further articulations of these questions and perhaps some tentative approaches to answers.

      And, as I said earlier, a euro-centrifugal tale.

      In 1970, while traveling in Italy, I was literally stopped in my tracks in the church of Santa Croce in Florence. A prone funerary sculpture of a woman arrested my attention. In that uncanny instant I was certain that she bore an unmistakable resemblance to my...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 159-170)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 171-180)
  12. Index
    (pp. 181-184)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 185-185)