Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Denis Linehan
Conference of Irish Geographer 2011
‘The Author at Livingstone:’ the ambivalent space of race and encounter in 'African Adventure' (1936)
Oral Presentation
Optional Fields

In a photograph taken at Laonja in June 1935, three Capuchin missionaries sit in rattan chairs in the late afternoon. They appear a little fatigued, and slightly ill at ease. They pose for the camera in full missionary garb, knowing perhaps the photograph would linger long in history, but travel immediately through the circuits and domains of missionary life – books, magazines, Missionary Houses, school rooms, libraries, parochial halls, churches and chapels in Ireland. Among them is Father James O Mahony, a Franciscan theologian  (and later Professor of Philosophy at UCC) who traveled in the winter of 1935 from Cork to Capetown, and from there, northwards to Kimberley, Mafeking, Bulawayo and finally to Mongu in Barotseland in the Upper Zambezi Valley, in current day western Zambia.  This expedition he described in African Adventure (1936).  The journeys, reports, film and photography – the resonances of multiple cultural geographies of encounter  - by Irish missionaries remain a fertile area of research for Irish cultural studies – yet arguably have not drawn extensive attention from cultural geographers, whose writing on Ireland, has tended to be focused in a national frame.    This paper unravels the dialogue between the "self" of Irishness and the "other" in African Adventure. This dialogue is read against the grain of the missionary archive, by turning to strategies offered by Edward Said, ‘… to draw out, extend, and give emphasis and voice to what is silent or marginally present . . .” (Said, 1994, p. 66).  By recovering this ambivalent space in the text the paper suggests offers insights into the practices, styles, and modalities of representation whose legacies glisten still in contemporary Ireland.