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The Conquest of Antiquity: The Travelling Empire of John Lloyd Stephens

The Conquest of Antiquity: The Travelling Empire of John Lloyd Stephens

Chapter:
(p.99) The Conquest of Antiquity: The Travelling Empire of John Lloyd Stephens
Source:
American Travel and Empire
Author(s):
Gesa Macleenthun
Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9781846311802.003.0006

This chapter, which examines the travelogues of nineteenth-century American archaeologist adventurer John Lloyd Stephens, argues that a postcolonial perspective illuminates the dialectics between domestic issues within American political and scientific discourse and American interests abroad. Stephens' trip to Central America took place in the years between the Indian Removal and the annexation of Texas that led to the Mexican War. While providing rhetorical continuity to these acts of internal colonialism and imperial expansion, Stephens' texts may also be seen as part of the larger intellectual project of spelling out an American cultural identity independent from that of Europe. In doing so, Stephens' travelogues deserve attention within a second framework of inquiry: the analysis of the particular ideological circumstances of the institutionalization of the new historical sciences of archaeology, anthropology, and ethnology.

Keywords:   travelogues, travel writing, Central America, colonialism, imperial expansion, American cultural identity

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