Travelling in Time and Space in Literature in English
Edited By Liliana Sikorska
Writing the nation: Discourses of power in Richard Hakluyt’s Principal navigations: Jessica Quick, Saint Louis University, Madrid
Jessica Quick, Saint Louis University, Madrid
As one of the earliest narratives of English colonization, Richard Hakluyt’s Principal navigations provides insight on conceptualizations of conquest and the construction of national identity amid early global expansion. Historical theorists critique literary analyses of Principal navigations for approaching the dubious credibility of these travel narratives through a strictly contemporary, theoretical lens. However, asserting contextual restrictions on Hakluyt’s travel narratives threatens to misappropriate pertinent reflections of early cultural encounters to an inapplicable, past history. This paper will analyze Hakluyt’s Principal navigations as a cultural product that reflects how we perceive ethnicity through global exchange. The circulation of Hakluyt’s narratives at the time of its initial distribution allowed its English readership to traverse continents by engaging with the narrative of their nation’s colonizing efforts, while constructing a nationalist identity of “Englishness”. By closely interpreting “The discovery of Guiana“ by Sir Walter Raleigh” in Hakluyt’s Principal navigations, this paper extracts what Homi Bhabha calls “an apparatus of symbolic power” in its narrative of English, Spanish and indigenous national identities in the New World. In addition, Sir Raleigh’s account highlights narrative intersections between English constructions of cultural identity and an underlying sexual discourse in mapping out ethnographies based on symbolic power relationships.
In The location of culture, Homi Bhabha (1994: 145) describes “scraps, patches, and rags of daily life… turned into the signs of a coherent national culture. In the production of nation as narration there is a split between...
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