Exotic Others or Fellow Travellers ? Representations of India in Polish Travel Writing during Communist Era

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URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10900/84729
Dokumentart: PhDThesis
Date: 2018-11-09
Language: English
Faculty: 5 Philosophische Fakultät
Department: Slavistik
Advisor: Schahadat, Schamma (Prof. Dr.)
Day of Oral Examination: 2016-11-02
DDC Classifikation: 891.8 - Slavic literatures
Keywords: Orientalism , Indien , Polen , Reportage , Reisebericht
Other Keywords:
Polish reportage
travel writing
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India has been widely represented in European literature for several centuries: as an exotic, far-away country and land of mystics, but also as a land of poverty and feudal oppression. That imagery is part of what Edward Said and other scholars defined as Orientalist discourse. This dissertation attempts at showing the exceptional durability of such stereotypes, even in a postcolonial era, and in a culture that never had a truly colonial discourse of its own. The Polish culture, shaped by particular historical circumstances of being at times dominated by other empires, and at times, subjugating smaller entities in the region, produced its own Orientalism. While in nineteenth and early twentieth century, Poles shared a romantic and exoticised vision of India with other Europeans, after the Second World War, the situation drastically changed. Poland became communist, and from that time onwards, freedom of expression was curtailed and even travel writing became part of the state’s ideological offensive. The travel accounts analysed in this dissertation are works of travel reportage, a nonfictional, journalistic genre, particularly popular in Poland. The accounts date from mid-1950s till end of 1970s, and they are written by well-known writers (Jerzy Putrament, Wojciech Żukrowski), as well as by famous reporters (Wiesław Górnicki, Wojciech Giełżyński, Jerzy Chociłowski). The analysis of these texts reveals that even though the authors declare that they are against Orientalist depictions of India and adopt a socialist perspective, they still use many tropes typical of European Orientalism. Moreover, in their attempt to promote a socialist vision of modernity, they demonstrate a similar type of superiority as their colonial predecessors. That is why, the representations of India in Polish reportage of that era can be considered as a discourse of Socialist Orientalism.

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