Spanish Catholic schoolgirl crushes

When it comes to travel writing, it’s out with the old, exotic cliches, in with the … new, exotic cliches? I fear so, alas. Though in a weird way the example about the schoolgirls (with its circumvention of the old old center-to-margins model of cultural spread) gives me the most hope.

Of course, the motifs and assumptions of well-told travel stories do change over the years. Twenty years ago, for example, books like Pico Iyer’s Video Night in Kathmandu showed how travel writers had a new duty to deal with the charms and challenges and complexities of globalization. By the time I started writing for a living in the late 1990s, it had come to the point where it was nearly impossible to write a travel story without acknowledging globalization in some way. It’s difficult, after all, to project the old exotic clichés onto foreign lands when you keep meeting Burmese Shan refugees who can quote West Coast hip-hop, or Spanish Catholic girls who have crushes on Chinese movie stars, or Jordanian teenagers who idolize Bill Gates.

from “Rolf Potts: Revelations from a Postmodern Travel Writer,” interview by Michael Yessis, World Hum, 19 September 2008 :: via Ideas Blog

Originally published at

Add Your Comments