Desire for the Orient: Ideological and Discursive Splits in Some British Travel Accounts on Precolonial Morocco

Lahoucine AAMMARI, Lahoucine AAMMARI

Abstract


Arthur Leared, Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham and Budgett Meakin are three less-examined British travellers who made their journeys into Western Barbary or the ‘Land of the Moors’ in the era of ‘high noon of imperialism’. They show their firm endorsement for the British Empire and its complex discursive apparatuses. Their travel texts demonstrate their ‘desire for Barbary’ and its people as a religiously, socially and culturally different Other. Leared’s Morocco and the Moors (1876), Graham’s Mogreb-El-Acksa: A Journey in Morocco (1898) and Meakin’s Life in Morocco (1905) are framed within the Enlightenment logic that subordinated Western Barbary to the frames of presentation designed by these British Subjects. Hinged around this Cartesian perspectivalislm, the underlying logic of these conceptions of the subject and representation generated the need to narratively master, dominate and control the Moors and their space. Still, these travellers are caught between a narrative mastery and a desire for Western Barbary where their different desires can be substantiated and an image of Moroccan society as an impenetrable, concealed domain of impenetrability and total invisibility. These paradoxical vantages reveal certain discursive ambivalences within these travel texts.

Keywords


Ambivalence, Arthur Leared, Budgett Meakin, Cunninghame Graham, Colonial Discourse, Oriental Desire, Travel Narrative, Barbary

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