Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Romance and Classical Studies
Miguel Cabañas, Spanish
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DSC_0925-_Cabanas_scaled_002.jpgMany of us travel to unknown places, or are tourists, and if we are travel writers, we write about our adventures on the road. In 2008, I published my first book The Cultural "Other" in Nineteenth-Century Travel Narratives: How the United States and Latin America Described Each Other. The book addressed the travel writing genre in the 19th century which was the way most people learned about other cultures and places when transportation was slower and the internet did not exist. Last year, I, along with Jeanne Dubino, Verónica Salles-Reese, and Gary Totten, edited a sixteen-essay collection Politics, Identity, and Mobility in Travel Writing in which we consider this genre in a comparative framework and historically from Ancient times to the present. The collection focuses on how travelers engage with the political contexts of the places they visit and the politics left behind at home. Of course, travel literature is inherently shaped by the cultural beliefs and ideology of the traveler and thus naturally includes a political perspective. The essays in this collection address how travel writing represents political conditions and engages in debates about national, transnational and global citizenship. My contributed chapter focuses on Adrián Giménez Hutton, an Argentine travel writer who retraced British writer Bruce Chatwin’s Patagonian travels. Giménez Hutton, an amateur adventurer, rewrites Chatwin’s famous book In Patagonia (1977) by following his steps and interviewing the main characters in the famous travel book. Giménez Hutton finds that Chatwin mainly fabricated and falsified the people, the conditions, and the local history to construct a Eurocentric version of Patagonia. My chapter deals with the ethics of travel writing and how falsification and fiction in his purported non-fiction narrative make us reassess the idea that In Patagonia is considered the quintessential piece of travel writing of the 20th century. 

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