Conference on
Rites of Passage: Exploring changes in the travel motif

Dates: 3/2/2006-3/4/2006


Submission of abstracts (200-300 words): 15 February 2006

Organised by the Department of Germanic and Romance Studies, University of Delhi, Delhi, India, E-mail: [log in to unmask]

Though travel has always been a recurring theme in writing, it emerged as a significant motif in the 18th and 19th centuries, not only in literature but also in philosophical and political discourse. This was a reflection of the large-scale migration of people unleashed by the process of industrialisation and colonisation as also of the beginnings of travel as tourism for the leisured classes. 


The transformation of the world over the last two centuries has witnessed the 'massification' of travel, both as mass tourism and in the explosive increase in migration. Both these forms of 'massification' have seen unprecedented expansion with the onset of the postcolonial era and particularly in the contemporary times of globalisation. This expansion has been driven particularly by modern technologies of travel and the media, but more generally by the social, economic and political conditions that emerged in the last century and then in the postcolonial world. While this process has included a redefining of borders, it has also sedimented the divides that existed between and within societies, albeit in new ways. The temporary escape or displacement of the traveller as tourist and the more permanent escape or displacement of the traveller as migrant reflect and are linked by these divides. 

Travel as a motif has been deployed in a variety of modes: as real, imaginary and virtual travel, as time travel and as travel in hyperreality. But it has always also been concerned, in one way or another, with constructing notions of the Self and the Other, or of utopian and dystopian worlds. In what ways have these notions changed? And how are they reflected in the motif of travel?


The seminar will bring together scholars from different disciplines to reflect upon the changes in the motif of travel and explore the artistic forms with which writers and other artists have sought to engage with them.




Shaswati Mazumdar, [log in to unmask], or [log in to unmask]  


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