European women travelers in the Arab World: A feminist and postcolonial analysis

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It has been asserted that women's travel narratives are fundamentally different from men's and that their gaze on the Orient registered differences in less pejorative ways. However, the analysis of the intersection of gender, class, nation and race discourses problematizes this view and gives evidence that women's narratives and life experiences are ambivalent; in effect, one can find sites of resistance to colonialism as well as sites of complicity, depending on the individual women's positioning in this intersection. But even if women's narratives and life experiences do not necessarily deviate from the predominant discourse (as presented by E. Said's original formulation), their texts are nevertheless specifically gendered. In this article I study two women travellers who went to two different parts of the Arab World: Isabelle Eberhardt (Geneva 1877-Aïn Sefra 1904) who travelled to Tunisia and Algeria, and Gertrude Bell (County Durham 1868-Baghdad 1926) who spent most of her adult life in the Middle East.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-130
JournalDocuments d' Analisi Geografica
Issue number40
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002


  • Feminist geograhy
  • Gertrude Bell
  • Isabelle Eberhardt
  • Middle east
  • Postcolonialism
  • Women travellers
  • Women's travel narratives


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