Contemporary materialism, in its varied configurations, persistently challenges claims that the body can be relegated to a subservient position when compared to reason. In most pertinent colonial and postcolonial studies the body is seen as a text, upon and by means of which signs of difference are instituted. Yet, to be able to test and appreciate to what extent the postcolonial body was and remains today a battleground for discursive control, it is helpful to start with the awareness of the somatics of the traveller himself –
his agreement to and with his own person or lack thereof
vis-à-vis other bodies, his translation of the somatic into the semantic. The traveller’s body, when rendered in writing, becomes a symbolic construct which enters into a relation with the represented world, and the nature of this multifaceted, troubled alliance – if alliance it is – forms the main theme of this book.