The Paris Universal Expositions of 1867, 1889 and 1900 turned out to be such a far-reaching event that it involved the Orient itself. There were numerous illustrious Arabs and intellectuals who did not want to miss the unique opportunity of visiting these exhibitions. Many of the Arab intellectuals in question left first-hand accounts of their experience. These nineteenth century works, which we can insert into the category of travel literature, revisit and re-enact the tradition of the riḥla (journey) according to the new needs of Arab society. Modulated according to the universal structure of the journey – departure, transit, arrival –, the texts highlight the various modes by which an encounter with the other came about and contributed to forming the consciousness of a collective identity. The Exposition, therefore, as a destination for the Arab traveler – a traveler who, in this abstract and transient ‘place’, lives a dual experience, enraptured, on the one hand, by the phantasmagoric atmosphere of the event, and on the other, fascinated by the ephemeral aspect of the representation that it gives of his country – arouses a certain ‘effect of estrangement’ which, however, soon dissolves like the pavilions of the Exposition itself, to leave room for the dominant view which is the image that the West was constructing of the East.

The Arabs in the Mirror: Stories and Travel Diaries relating to the Universal Expositions in Paris (1867, 1889, 1900)

BALDAZZI, CRISTIANA
2014

Abstract

The Paris Universal Expositions of 1867, 1889 and 1900 turned out to be such a far-reaching event that it involved the Orient itself. There were numerous illustrious Arabs and intellectuals who did not want to miss the unique opportunity of visiting these exhibitions. Many of the Arab intellectuals in question left first-hand accounts of their experience. These nineteenth century works, which we can insert into the category of travel literature, revisit and re-enact the tradition of the riḥla (journey) according to the new needs of Arab society. Modulated according to the universal structure of the journey – departure, transit, arrival –, the texts highlight the various modes by which an encounter with the other came about and contributed to forming the consciousness of a collective identity. The Exposition, therefore, as a destination for the Arab traveler – a traveler who, in this abstract and transient ‘place’, lives a dual experience, enraptured, on the one hand, by the phantasmagoric atmosphere of the event, and on the other, fascinated by the ephemeral aspect of the representation that it gives of his country – arouses a certain ‘effect of estrangement’ which, however, soon dissolves like the pavilions of the Exposition itself, to leave room for the dominant view which is the image that the West was constructing of the East.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11368/2823928
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