• Verstehen/ Einfühlen in Arabian Sands (1959): Wilfred Thesiger as Traveler and Anthropologist

    Author(s):
    Marielle R. Risse (see profile)
    Date:
    2013
    Group(s):
    GS Nonfiction Prose, GS Travel Writing, TC Anthropology and Literature
    Subject(s):
    Arabic language, Cultural studies, Middle Eastern history, Middle Eastern literature
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    arab world, autobiography
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M6QK5D
    Abstract:
    Using Geertz’s Verstehen/ Einfühlen distinction, this essay begins with an overview of the travel writing and anthropological work about Oman, concentrating on the southern region of Dhofar. The author then situates Wilfred Thesiger’s classic Arabian Sands (1959) within these two genres as an example of a writer who is able to show understanding for and empathy with his Bedu traveling companions. Thesiger’s Verstehen is demonstrated through comparing the details he gives of Bedu culture with current manifestations. His Einfühlen is shown through his over-arching concern for his companions and his respectful descriptions of their life, avoiding the typical Victorian condescension towards “natives” and the self-absorbed gushing of many modern travel writers. Using seven years of experience studying the culture of southern Oman, the author argues that Thesiger’s writing shows a rare combination of accuracy and empathy which elevates his book to a model of both anthropological and travel writing.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal Article
    Pub. DOI:
    10.3167/jys.2013.140102
    Publisher:
    Berghahn
    Journal:
    Journeys: The International Journal of Travel & Travel Writing
    Volume:
    14
    Issue:
    1
    Start Page:
    23
    End Page:
    39
    Status:
    Published
    License:
    All Rights Reserved

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