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Travelogues, Burton Holmes and the spectacle: the invention of Latin America and the Global South through travel narratives

Grant number: 23/10970-9
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research
Effective date (Start): December 01, 2023
Effective date (End): August 31, 2024
Field of knowledge:Linguistics, Literature and Arts - Arts - Cinema
Principal Investigator:Arlindo Rebechi Junior
Grantee:Arlindo Rebechi Junior
Host Investigator: Ivone Margulies
Host Institution: Faculdade de Arquitetura, Artes, Comunicação e Design (FAAC). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Bauru. Bauru , SP, Brazil
Research place: City University of New York (CUNY), United States  


This research investigates the shows of illustrated travel lectures and the filming of the American traveler-cinegrapher Burton Holmes (1870-1958), in his forays into territories of the Global South, especially in Latin America, in the late 19th and early 19th centuries of the 20th century. Initially, his illustrated travel lectures and his travel films, also known as travelogues, were connected to the traditions of travel narratives of exploration in the 19th century. Throughout this century, already with the use of photographic representation technologies, travel narratives approached more spectacular representation practices, and it became common to display images of distant places in illustrated lectures aimed at an urban North American and European public, which, in general, was unaware of the visualities of territories so far away to the South. The appearance of recording moving images allowed, within this tradition, not only a new way of exploring and displaying an unknown universe of habits, people, and demarcated spatialities but a new way of thinking, conceiving, representing and imagining - and even disciplining and governing - the other and his territory. For this investigation, two main objectives are proposed, and they condition the two complementary axes of research analysis, namely: to analyze the forms of the spectacle of Burton Holmes's illustrated travel lectures as a new visual, cultural, and social experience; and to analyze the use and practices of travel films produced by Holmes in territories of the Global South. Although he is considered the main traveler-cinegrapher in the context of the early American cinema that produced travelogues, Burton Holmes and his travel narratives have been the subject of few studies. As an existing gap, one can see a minimal interest in the focus of these many travel narratives that Holmes produced based on the Global South and Latin America territories. In methodological terms, this work proposes a stage of bibliographical research, with the review of monographic material around the two main axes of investigation and documental research in North American collections, especially in New York City, for data collection primary focus: on Burton Holmes travel films; on the forms of production and the trips made; in the texts published as complements to its exhibitions in illustrated travel lectures, including the programs and guides of the presentations; in the reports and reviews published in local North American newspapers about his shows. This documentation collected in North American archives and the confrontation of bibliographic information will allow an analysis of Burton Holmes' travel narrative practice in territories of the Global South, with emphasis on Latin America. A problem that guides this research work is linked to how the travel narratives about the Global South operated by Burton Holmes in his lectures and in his travel films are the result of both a dialogue with ideological projects and knowledge of his time as a dialogue with the specific historical formations of the North American nation and its respective imaginary about the foreigner. (AU)

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