Scotland’s role within the British Empire in relation to its experience of ‘internal colonialism’ from 1707 onwards has been at the centre of critical and historical debates in Scotland since the 1990s. In this context, the ideas of the Scottish Enlightenment on race and the ‘progress’ of societies across different stages seem either to endorse or, on the contrary, confute the ideological assets constituting imperial politics. As a reflection of this complex national predicament marked by tensions and ambiguities, the Scottish explorer Mungo Park’s Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa (1799) combine the epistemological curiosity of the Romantic traveller who wants to render the Other familiar to Western eyes with a much more programmatic, alias imperialistic, explorative incursion into foreign territories. The paper will show evidence of the controversial human and cultural geography embedded in Park’s narrative, which captivated the Romantic imagination by means of its mixture of assumed realism and romance-like figurations. At the same time, though, it reveals, albeit latently, Park’s struggle to negotiate between a defence of the liberal principles of the Enlightenment transplanted to the African context and the direct involvement in colonial undertakings.
Mungo Park's "Travels" (1799) and the Unsolved Ambiguities of Scotland's Colonial Discourse / Angeletti, Gioia. - In: LA TORRE DI BABELE. - ISSN 1724-3114. - 13(2017), pp. 23-44.
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