Vivanco - Tarzan - Chapter 12 | eBooks | Non-Fiction

Vivanco - Tarzan - Chapter 12

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Doing Africa

Travelers, Adventurers, and American Conquest of Africa
In the adventure we forcibly pull the world into ourselves. Adventure has the gesture of the conqueror, the quick seizure of opportunity, regardless of whether the portion we carve out is harmonious or disharmonious with us, with the world, or with the relation between us and the world (Simmel 1971: 193).
Adventure, as Simmel suggests, is analogous to a love affair — it requires both an act of conquest and a submission to the conquered. This simultaneous conquest and surrender characterizes contemporary travel by Americans to Africa. We argue that it is precisely the act of submission, the giving in to love, that makes the enacted conquest of adventure palatable to the modern American subject. This not only intimates that travel to Africa actually requires an "adventure," but that the ideal type of the adventurer is critical to the imagined relationship Americans have with the world, one that is often played out against the backdrop of an African scene. The collapsing of histories of representation of Africa as a colonized space of darkness and contemporary images portraying a continent where modernity fails and epidemics run rampant creates an Africa located fully outside of the United States. America's Africa is the definitive site of adventure. An examination of travel to Africa by Americans shows both a frantic yearning for adventure and a frequent reiteration of love and desire for Africa. This hunger for adventure suggests that imperial relationships of the present are negotiated increasingly through modes of action rather than the gaze. This shift from the imperial eye/I to an embodied penetration of Africa by Americans pushes the American adventurer to realize a self more suited to emerging forms of empire. Drawing on ethnographic work with college students and other travelers to southern Africa, literature on African tourism, including sex tourism, as well as the role of Africa in reality television and other fictions, this paper shows how Americans forcibly pull the world into themselves. Doing AfricaTravelers, Adventurers, and American Conquest of AfricaKathryn Mathers and Laura HubbardIn the adventure we forcibly pull the world into ourselves. Adventure has the gesture of the conqueror, the quick seizure of opportunity, regardless
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