Abstract

Reading the French-German writer and naturalist Adelbert von Chamisso’s travel narratives on his journey to Oceania, this essay highlights the co-constitutive role of the Pacific Islanders, in particular the Islander Kadu, in the making of German transcultural consciousness around 1800. I argue that the concepts of mutuality and relationality give more visibility to the contribution of the Islanders in the event of beach-crossings and provide meaningful perspectives in addition to the model of imperial domination and control for the understanding of European-Pacific encounters in a shared global network of knowledge. I first discuss the generic oscillation of Voyage Round the World between scientific travel report and autobiography. Then I turn to Kadu as the connector of words, actions, emotions, and cultural perspectives between the European travelers and the Islanders. Voyage Round the World offers a porous discursive environment in which Kadu and Chamisso have the opportunity to articulate their mutual influence and transformation. Hence I conclude that Oceania permeates Chamisso’s travel writings, induces the generic instability, and gives Kadu voice and gestalt. Chamisso’s German texts document Oceania’s immensity, vitality, and connectivity both within and beyond the Pacific.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1935-0201
Print ISSN
0193-5380
Pages
pp. 79-98
Launched on MUSE
2017-03-13
Open Access
No
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