Tropical Engagements: Vernaculars in French Early Modern Travel Writing (Africa and the Caribbean 1645-1728)
"Tropical Engagements" examines how vernacular languages are incorporated into and impact upon early modern French travel writing from Africa and the Caribbean, by means of lexical inclusions of foreign words and of reported dialogues. The purpose is to reconfigure our understanding of intercultural engagements during the beginning of colonization by exploring the vernacular impact on the articulation of knowledge and writing. The project takes as a point of departure the observation that vernacular language appears as a written transposition of the other voices and languages. Vernacular is understood in a broad sense as local languages and includes native tongues as well as learned and mixed languages. The material contains mainly missionary travelogues and will be chosen by the use of contemporary databases and archives along with older travel bibliographies, and consists of print material as well as manuscripts that cover a period from the early French establishments in Africa and the Caribbean to the rise of high-colonialism and slave-trade in the first part of the 18th century. Methodologically it will engage with literary discursive analysis, dialogism and theories of creolization and encounters with alterity. The project is also involved with contemporary questions concerning research on World Literature, postcolonial and transatlantic studies, such as multilingualism, transnationalism and intercultural relations.