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Travel to travel or travel to dwell  

Travel to travel or travel to dwell.

So one kind of travel takes the traveller to a location for what might be dubbed as ‘intensive dwelling’. A way to experience as an outsider the local culture. Whereas another kind of travel has a focus on capturing fleeting cultural happenings as is the case of being a perpetual outsider. The concept of a ‘happening’ as a moment marked by brief ephemeral encounters that becomes popular consumption through a genera of literary travel writing.

So at one end of travel there is a travel to dwell approach, whereas at the other end of the spectrum, there is dwell to travel, where dwelling is a necessity for travel akin to tourism. The travel writer incorporates a spacial practice with a textual construction that is arguably more developed than that of a tourist. Though the anthropological approach is analytic, and descriptively dense in content than. Travel writing generally omits analysis pertaining to such concepts as kinship, ritual process and developmental issues around governance.


So what is the travel practice? If being real is a matter of being authentic, then is about a form of intent and purpose? There is a commonality with travel in that the interaction of the outsider is based on a controlled environment constructed through global capitalist systems that advocate various forms of experience based consumption. The consumption may be also akin to a reversal of dependency creating long lasting bonds.






Case study 1.

A group of hikers walked along a high mountain pass when one of the party slipped into rapids. The hiker was pinned between rocks, that made it difficult to excess. So the journey was marked by an intention though the group encountered a radically distinct set of circumstances. The narrator of the story had to quickly interpret the circumstance.

Firstly she noticed rain clouds. Secondly no phone to emergence. No money for a helicopter. The intention was very focused given the gravity of the new circumstance. This suggested the interpretation would be based on a narrow goal. The goal to save her friend. The actions taken were based on the reality which was to run for help to the nearest village. The interesting feature of this story was the set of events were narrated is such a way to suggest a set of lucky, and serendipitous encounters with locals, leading to a difficult but successful rescue. (The kindness of strangers, by ‘Czechoslovakian. India bites you somehow)



These travellers’ were neither engaged in ‘urban social work nor liberal slumming’ but a form of naturalist romanticism. The intentional realism from an unexpected outcome with ‘the wild’ gave them an insight into social realism of local knowledge, which enabled an intra intentionality to forge a new kind of social realism of aid in reverse.

The broader implication is that travel by token of the craft of a more or less continuous movement does not allow for intense interaction that require prolonged dwelling in place. However travel does allow for a wide angle lens approach to region. Contrast this to the ethnographic telephoto lens view of the local that searches for analysis of relations over observation of peoples and place.

This brings up the notion of cultural malaise. A malaise in context to travel implies the dilution of culture through globalization causing a space/time compression of place. That is through modernisation in post colonial nation states distinct cultures have become uniformed through aspects of development. Space is not a real issue given ease of crossing boarders given economic viability permits, and time is compressed given instantaneous communication and navigation through the global satellite systems.

The phenomenon of cultural malaise coverages literary travel with anthropological approaches. This does not entail a total collapse of various fields of enquiry. At least on face value, it seems there is more effort to take-up and understand different cultural fields through dwelling, and intense levels of local participation. Therefore there is a different sense of inter-subjectivity than the transient travel reporter who embarks on ‘multiple sites of encounter’ in quick succession.

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