Bani Amor and India Harris on "Decolonizing Travel Writing"
Bani Amor and India Harris have created the "ABC's of fucked up language in travel writing" to help "decolonize travel writing." The two have a discussion at MatadorNetwork.com about why they created the ABC's, what they see wrong with travel writing today, and ideas for how travel writers should think about the language they use in writing.
Words like ‘authentic,’ ‘exotic,’ ‘g*psy,’ ‘native’ and ‘tribal’ are used in ways that are either exoticizing local people or diminishing their culture. These words are often misappropriated by leisure travelers as monikers or identities to take on which, because of their privilege, is seen as something positive, while nomadic peoples throughout the world face discrimination, systemic violence and have had their lands handed over to settlers. These writings look very similar to the journals/records kept by colonizers otherwise known as ‘explorers’ from the 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.
Similar to these issues is the "poverty porn" that some writers promote when writing or photographing Indians on the rez. Rather than humanizing its subject, these writers tend to create more of a mythical subject that diminishes the subjects instead of accurately reporting on them. Check out the rest of the fruitful discussion on travel writing here.