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Motion Pictures

Travel Ideals in Film


Edited By Gemma Blackwood and Andrew McGregor

This volume examines representations and explorations of travel ideals in contemporary international cinema. It assembles work from a diverse range of academic fields including anthropology, sociology, ethnography, cinema, culture, tourism, communication and language studies, with contributions from international experts such as Mary Louise Pratt of New York University, whose work on ‘contact zones’ continues to provide the framework for scholarship on travel writing around the world. The volume explores the link between filmed spaces and real locations, with one of the fundamental dynamics being the investigation of filmmaking itself, and in particular the notion that cultural authenticity may be sought and found by filming ‘on location’. Also examined are the notions of fantasy and exoticism that arise through an idealisation of the locations themselves and their transformational impact on the protagonists who travel there. Such is the impact of motion pictures on contemporary culture that these travel ideals in film will inevitably influence our understanding of cities, regions, nations and cultures; indeed, the world around us and our role in it.
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Chapter Six: Freedom and Belonging Up in the Air: Reconsidering the Travel Ideal with Jean-Luc Nancy




Freedom and Belonging Up in the Air: Reconsidering the Travel Ideal with Jean-Luc Nancy

How does belonging fit into a Western travel ideal so heavily invested in freedom? When one reflects on travel stories in the West the initial response seems clear: there is no belonging. From the colonial binaries of “home/away”, “self/other” and “free/unfree”, to New Age claims of belonging on the road, to the world, or as a global soul – hinting at the end of belonging all together – Western travel “ideals” have been built upon a precarious fascination with the individual’s choice of how to be “free” and where to “belong”.1 But as contemporary philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy asks, what would such a self-determining free decision mean if it was not also an attempt to remain untouched by every obstacle in life and to maintain a comfortable distance from entering into relations with others?2 ← 109 | 110 →

Freedom continues to permeate the Western travel imaginary as images of the emancipated traveller on a journey of self-discovery and self-transformation surface with relative consistency in contemporary popular culture.3 This should hardly come as a surprise since, as Kaplan suggests, the emphasis on freedom as “an internalised consciousness of the bounded individual subject” has a longstanding relationship with travel to the extent that “Western modernity since the Enlightenment tends to privilege mobility of one kind or another”.4 What is surprising however, from both a creative and intellectual perspective,...

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