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East-West Dialogues: The Transferability of Concepts in the Humanities

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Edited By Christoph Bode, Michael O'Sullivan, Lukas Schepp and Eli Park Sorensen

This is an edited collection of essays drawn from collaborative events organized jointly by The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. The book focuses on how literary and cultural perspectives from different humanities academic environs in Asia and Europe might contribute to our understanding of the "transferability of concepts." Exploring ways in which these traditions may enter into new and productive collaborations, the book presents readings of a wide range of Western and Eastern writers, including Shakespeare, J.M. Coetzee, Yu Dafu. The book contains a virtual round table followed by four thematic sections – "Travels and Storytelling," "Translation and Transferability," "Historical Contexts and Transferability," and "Aesthetic Contexts and Transferability."

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Chapter 2: The Centers Cannot Hold: Cross-Cultural Narratives of Travel in the Age of Globalization: Katharina Pink

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Katharina Pink

The Centers Cannot Hold: Cross-CulturalNarratives of Travel in the Age of Globalization

Entering a bookstore, you can still find them: narratives of travel, neatly ordered by world region and culture; classics like Seven Years in Tibet, A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush, Arabian Sands, or Travels in the Interior of Africa, to name only a few prominent examples. But often enough, they seem to chronicle an anachronism. Tibet as described by Harrer has long ceased to exist, as have the realities of Bruce’s pre-colonial Africa. The deserts of Arabia and the nomad ways of their inhabitants have in turn given way to modern civilization. These global developments, as well as a lament for times When the Going Was Good, to quote Evelyn Waugh’s famous travel anthology, have long since been the routine complaints of travel writers. Already “belated” in the 19th century1 today’s travel authors face an array of additional complications, living in a perplexingly globalized world of intertwined economies, increasingly intersecting systems of meaning, and fragmented identities. In this (post)modern world the comforting notion of self and other, of nation-states with consistent communities, cultures, and mentalities, of dominant centers and remote margins, no longer seems adequate.

So what happens to a genre of cross-cultural narratives based on such notions when the very idea of nationalities and cultures is in demise? When cultures can no longer be thought of as self-contained entities but rather – in the context of cultural globalization...

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