How did women write in the colonial period? Is there a specifically female genre of travel writing?
"Discourses of Difference" unravels the complexities of writings by British women travellers of the "high colonial" period. Sara Mills' broad-based study draws on the work of Foucault and the ideas of colonialism of such cultural theorists as Edward Said, Louise Pratt, and Gayatri Spivak to produce a new thoeretical framework for the analysis of texts written during this period.
Mills argues that critics have paid insufficient attention to issues of gender, and have failed to consider the context in which texts by women were written and received. Through case studies of three women travellers--Alexandra David-Neel, Mary Kingsley and Nina Mazuchelli--Mills charts both the variety and the shared features in women's travel writing, suggesting that, although these women wrote from within the colonial system, they produced alternative accounts of the imperial presence in colonial countries.
""Discourses of Difference uncovers the many ways women travel writers have tried to deal with problems of credibility. They have played down the adventurous parts of their journeys or not reported events deemed "unfeminine." They have consciously created "women's texts," by writing in ways that allowed their books to be produced and read differently from men's travel writing. And the instability of the narrator's position--particularly in books of the colonial period, as Kingsley's example demonstrates--reflects the more general contradictions and complexity of white women's relation to power."
-"The Women's Review of Books