Seventeenth CenturyDutch Travellers in South Africa
The Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (SASMARS)
In their introduction to The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing, Hulme and Youngs write: Travel has recently emerged as a key theme for the humanities and social sciences, and the amount of scholarly work on travel writing has reached unprecedented levels. The academic disciplines of literature, history, geography, and anthropology have all overcome their previous reluctance to take travel writing seriously and have begun to produce a body of interdisciplinary criticism which will allow the full historical complexity of the genre to be appreciated. In the case of South Africa important contributions to travel writing were made by a host of seventeenth century Dutch explorers and travellers who, either on their own initiative or by order of the Cape commanders and governors, went into the interior for longer and shorter periods in search of knowledge, copper and gold. When studying their reports one should keep in mind that they followed (or were supposed to follow) specific instructions regarding what to look for and what to include in their reports and how to structure them.
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