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Hybrid subjectivity realised through travel  



Contemporary travelling through contrasting social settings can give an intuitive sense of cultural styles along with a distancing effect from the home culture. Though in the early modern period Travellers’ were not entirely outsiders as they moved through the colonies of the British empire. They were mainly male, privileged, and autonomous agents, that along with leisure had the means to satisfy their wanderlust.

If the contemporary gives an intuitive sense of culture in contrast to a formalist approach it suggests multiple contested interpretations of place. So a relativist approach there are subjects that are impacted by the traveller were as an absolutist systemic approach there are objects. The relativist connotation is about the liberty to adventure. The traveller moves by travel from the confines of their situated national identity. The absolutist suggests that national identity is transcendent. This means a person cannot detach their core identity through spacial movement, such as by travel, but by travel is an agent for foreign affairs.


What absolutism suggests is a national core identity that is resilient to any form of hybridisation. The objectivity is valid through systems of identity such as the passport. However as dialogue ensues with locals and other travellers', what emerges is a form of relativism. By being within the frame of some other representation of being human gives a sense of hybridism as akin to the person that could entail a form of being the thinking animal. This is partly through the very act of narration as well as immersion within other abstractions as artifact/cultures.

Relativism also occurs as a person is under a constant pressure is to live on the periphery by token of their life circumstances. So as transformational travellers’ who quest for community, so to are transients, vagrants, and drop outs. As the perspective of the normative social structure warps through time dilation by digital revolutions, so to are emergent forms of traveller identity. They are realisable often through forms of travel. What is most resistant to realisability are a constellation of absolutist notions around cultural actualization.

This resistance is most embedded within the travel industry as mass tourism. This narrative structure is around social status within an institutional context. Though in contrast the vagabond moves from a non dominant discourse of the subaltern identity. A kind of identity in the spirit of being transnational by default of being on the periphery of society. Metaphor as a homeless engineer who structures forms of discourse around local travel routes as being situated in zones like bus shelters and the like.

The character of being at the periphery of the national identity entails that more extreme social travel that involves crossing territorial boundaries of a nation state can only practically occur if the traveller has a solid sense of a form of national identity. So firstly there is an economic determinism, and then the notion of non state actor as advocate through a style of travel. This is more akin the colonial traveller who acted as an unofficial diplomate and in line with being a foreign correspondent.

So as the traveller embarks on a style of diplomatic advocacy all occurring within a world system of nation states what enables the traveller to negotiate multiple discourses is in essence their ability to be a hybrid traveller.


Case study of bicycle travellers’.


This was a daily journal style approach where the travel consisted of riding the bike for most of the day each day for 30 days. There were a set of contrasts to those travellers’. Some travellers use the bike as a means to draw attention that is then allows them to engage in forms of aid, development and research into a community. However generally it is the ephemeral nature of encounters that typify a constant mode of slow travel. This includes food stall encounters, hotel encounters, local encounters with passers by and stunned villagers off the tourist routes, and those who follow in pursuit of one or another social/financial gain and interdependence.

Within Asia there are comments on decorated tractors, buses and trucks become proxies for temples. There were also encounters with wandering goat and camel herders, and truckers at their stops. At its most basic its a pragmatic interpretation of encounters where what holds sway is a kind of gritty nationalism with little shared sense of religious inter subjectivity. Though it difficult to find profound encounters, however it is unsurpassed as a micro account of chance meetings with locals.

So in contrast to the notion of ‘chance encounters’ there are those travellers who target their interactions. This may through living in an ashram or participate in a non government organisation, or more specifically an international governance organisation such as Ox fame or World vision.

The more in depth encounter wants to find the social causes for observational interpretations like ‘the ladies seem to work all day’ that takes the form of a coded gentrified social system. So from a sociological perspective the interpretation would be somewhat based on stratification theory where women in caste based social systems of a certain caste are placed in a position of menial worker, much as migrant workers in Western liberal democracies.

Cyclists are spacial constructed social informants of events with a 100 km daily cruise.


Images of village life, the personal exertion of the ride, landscapes, and encounters with traffic make up a typical journal. The travel journal as a way to give completion and validation to the act of travel, and when the mode is that of a bicycle then its documentation portrays slow travel and people in various public and private settings. Documentation as a mode of narrative that interprets real events. So going up a steep grade by pushing a loaded tourer as a visual interpretation of endurance. The apparent sense of travel through difficult roads and events tends is a way to connect to culture through humanistic modes of expression.

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