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Myths and Realities


Edited By Fernanda Peñaloza, Jason Wilson and Claudio Canaparo

This volume includes a selection of the papers given during the international conference «Patagonia: Myths and Realities», which was organised through the Centre of Latin American Cultural Studies at the University of Manchester. The essays gathered in this collection are not a direct record of the proceedings but pursue many of the themes raised by the participants. The contributors to the volume come from the fields of history, literary studies and cultural studies. From among the many sources that explore the representation of Patagonia, they have chosen to discuss a wide range of texts, dating from the eighteenth century to the twentieth century, including travelogues, diaries, maps, novels, autobiographies, letters and even a dictionary. The essays trace different experiences in order to illustrate the diversity of the region.
This book makes a significant contribution to the study of the historical circumstances around the exploration and colonisation of Patagonia, as well as the subsequent cultural, political and economic outcomes.


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Karl Posso - Pataphysics and the Irony of Travel Writing: Approaching Chatwin’s Patagonia via Waugh’s Amazonia 195


Karl Posso Pataphysics and the Irony of Travel Writing: Approaching Chatwin’s Patagonia via Waugh’s Amazonia Patagonia. Phantasy of disappearance. The disappearance of Indians, your own disappearance, that of culture, all landscape […] That is why Pata- gonia goes so well with “Pataphysics”, which is the science of imaginary solutions. Pataphysics and agonistics: Patagonistics.1 — Jean Baudrillard The nostalgia for empire may go a long way to explain why the English are so fond of travel writing: representations of otherness are a form of incur- sion and appropriation that afford indulgent self-reflexivity, foregrounding the workings of colonial power. But in the twentieth century not much of the world was left for the English travel writer to demystify; so, with a certain nostalgia and a convenient dose of irony, he turned to Patagonia and the Amazon basin, both vast, remote regions relatively unscathed by urban infiltration, and therefore preserved in the domestic cultural imagina- tion as “virgin” territory, beckoning domination. The imperialist fantasy of penetrating these dark, recalcitrant extremities of the South American continent had been inflamed over the centuries by tales of doomed searches for El Dorado, of Colonel Percy Fawcett’s obsession with the Lost City of Matto Grosso – and its counterparts in the north of Tierra del Fuego – as well as the extraordinary reports of dinosaurs surreptitiously defying 1 Jean Baudrillard, The Transparency of Evil: Essays on Extreme Phenomena. Trans. James Benedict. London and New York: Verso, 1993. 149. 196 Karl Posso Darwin in Patagonian lakes. As a result, for the English,...

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