Concurrences in Contemporary Travel Writing: Postcolonial Critique and Colonial Sentiments in Sven Lindqvist’s Exterminate all the Brutes and Terra Nullius


  • Piia K. Posti Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies, Linnaeus University/Comparative literature, Linnaeus University in Växjä, Sweden



Concurrence, complicity, decolonisation, Sven Lindqvist, postcolonial critique, travel writing, universalism


Recent research highlights contemporary travel writing’s complicity in global politics, and the genre is claimed to reproduce the discourses that constitute our understanding of the world. It has also been argued that the genre holds a possibility to help us gain further knowledge about contemporary global politics, as it may work as an arena where global politics is commented on, intervened with and re-shaped. With this double view, current research exemplifies how scholars today grapple with the challenge of accounting for simultaneous and sometimes conflicting histories and conditions that are altered and affected by colonial contacts, practices and ideologies, and by recent globalisation. This article explores this double characteristic of the travelogue through the concept of concurrence, and discusses how this concept is useful as a tool for a new understanding of the genre. How can this concept be employed in an analysis of travel writing that is deeply engaged in a critique of colonialism and its legacy in today’s globalism but is simultaneously enmeshed in and complicit with the legacy that is critiques? “Concurrence” is introduced as a concept for such analysis since it contains both the notion of simultaneity and competition. It is suggested that “concurrence” provides a conceptual framework that allows us to account for controversies, intersections and inequities without reinscribing them into a reconciled and universalizing perspective. In exploring the concept of concurrence, this article provides an initial analysis of two contemporary Swedish travel narratives by Sven Lindqvist. The analysis is focused on the genre’s tension between fact and fiction, its discursive entanglement in colonialism, and the problem and possibility of writing postcolonial critique by use of this genre.


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Theme: Concurrences: Culture Bound and Unbound