About Travelogues

Travelogues: Perceptions of the Other and the Orient in Modern Times. A Mixed-method Approach for the Analysis of Large-scale Travel Account Series.

The project

This interdisciplinary international (DACH FWF-DFG) digital humanities project aims at gaining insight into the perception of the Other (focusing on the Orient) by analyzing an extensive collection of German language travelogues covering the period from 1500 until 1875. It will bring together a team of researchers from a wide-ranging disciplinary background – history, computer science, as well as library and information science – from Austria and Germany. They will jointly develop a novel mixed qualitative and quantitative method for the serial analysis of large-scale text corpora and apply that method on a comprehensive corpus of travelogues originally published in the German language (ca. 3,000—3,500 books) and drawn from the Austrian Books Online (ABO) project (ca. 600,000 books) of the Austrian National Library.

Travelogues are a highly important historical source, as they give deep insights into the historic dimension of the perception of the Other. Every one of us is constantly confronted with otherness and intercultural encounters due to processes such as global mass tourism, the internationalization of consumer culture, transnational migration, refugee flows, and globalization. Consequently, we must negotiate a complex interplay between alterity/identity and difference/similarity. Dealing with the Other and the conflicts that may arise when confronted with cultural difference is one of the biggest challenges of our time. By identifying, analyzing, and deconstructing and hence critically engaging with the historic dimension of otherness within travelogues, it is possible to raise awareness for perceptions of the Other, and generate historic contextual knowledge and orientation for the present and future.