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Abstract

In his article, "British Travel Writing about the Americas, 1820-1840: Different and Differentiating Views," Frank Lauterbach analyzes representations of the United States and South America in British travel writing of the post-Monroe years. His analysis rests on examples from two travelogues by Basil Hall, written in 1824 and 1829, respectively. Lauterbach discusses three related points: 1) Intent on overcoming the colonial affiliation with Anglo-American culture, British travelers try to establish a clear (romance of) difference between themselves and the United States, they employ a post-colonial rhetoric that stresses the strangeness rather than likeness of America; 2) Ironically, US-American responses to Basil Hall's work refute such claims of difference and, in turn, re-assert British hegemony through a colonial rhetoric designed to leave sameness between both countries virtually transparent; and 3) In contrast to their differentiating view of the United States, British writers approach South America with a different objective: Here a colonial rhetoric both enhances their self-identification and parallels neo-colonial interests by making the Other recognizable and easily penetrable despite its (thus neglected) differences. Lauterbach proposes to view colonial and post-colonial representations or narrations of alterity as a potentially neutral duality in discourse since both rhetorics can equally well emerge in writings from the (former) imperial metropolis and ex-colonial periphery.

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