Journeys to the Other Shore: Muslim and Western Travelers in Search of Knowledge

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Princeton University Press, 2006 - History - 313 pages

The contemporary world is increasingly defined by dizzying flows of people and ideas. But while Western travel is associated with a pioneering spirit of discovery, the dominant image of Muslim mobility is the jihadi who travels not to learn but to destroy. Journeys to the Other Shore challenges these stereotypes by charting the common ways in which Muslim and Western travelers negotiate the dislocation of travel to unfamiliar and strange worlds. In Roxanne Euben's groundbreaking excursion across cultures, geography, history, genre, and genders, travel signifies not only a physical movement across lands and cultures, but also an imaginative journey in which wonder about those who live differently makes it possible to see the world differently.


In the book we meet not only Herodotus but also Ibn Battuta, the fourteenth-century Moroccan traveler. Tocqueville's journeys are set against a five-year sojourn in nineteenth-century Paris by the Egyptian writer and translator Rifa'a Rafi' al-Tahtawi, and Montesquieu's novel Persian Letters meets with the memoir of an East African princess, Sayyida Salme.


This extraordinary book shows that curiosity about the unknown, the quest to understand foreign cultures, critical distance from one's own world, and the desire to remake the foreign into the familiar are not the monopoly of any single civilization or epoch. Euben demonstrates that the fluidity of identities, cultures, and borders associated with our postcolonial, globalized world has a long history--one shaped not only by Western power but also by an Islamic ethos of travel in search of knowledge.

 

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Contents

Frontiers Walls and Windows Some Reflections on Travel Narratives
1
Traveling Theorists and Translating Practices Theory and Theoria
20
Seeing the Entire World as a Foreign Land
24
Exposures and Closures
29
Islam Travel and talab alilm
34
The DoubleEdged Nature of Travel
38
Travel as Translation
41
Liars Travelers Theorists Herodotus and Ibn Battuta
46
Travels across Time and Space
108
Multiple Meditations
114
Conclusion
132
Gender Genre and Travel Montesquieu and Sayyida Salme
134
Montesquieus Persian Letters
144
Sayyida Salmes Memoirs
156
Conclusion
171
Cosmopolitanisms Past and Present Islamic and Western
174

Herodotus
52
Ibn Battuta
63
Conclusion
86
Travel in Search of Practical Wisdom The Modern Theoriai of alTahtawi and Tocqueville
90
Authorizing Autopsy
98
Notes
199
Glossary
267
Bibliography
271
Index
303
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About the author (2006)

Roxanne L. Euben is the Ralph Emerson and Alice Freeman Palmer Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College. She is the author of Enemy in the Mirror: Islamic Fundamentalism and the Limits of Modern Rationalism (Princeton).

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