Travel Genre and Ecology: Writing the Green Back into Place – a seminar by Dinah Roma Sianturi (Wed, 5 October 2011)

Speaker: Dinah Roma Sianturi (Asia Research Institute, NUS & De La Salle University, Philippines)
Date: Wednesday, 5 October 2011
Time: 3:30pm – 5:00pm
Venue: AS3, Level 6, SEAS Seminar Room (06-20)

Debates in recent travel theory have probed whether the travel genre can transcend its imperial origins. Long used to build knowledge on new geographies, the travel genre was potent in circulating images that constructed an “other” of peoples, places, and cultures. Yet with new research frontiers on environmental ills calling for interdisciplinarity, the travel writing’s resilience to cut across genres and disciplines, and its focus on “place” have been viewed to underlie its potency to be of service to
ecology. Still questions arise: can travel writing, implicated in an intricate and ever expanding profitoriented travel and tourism industry, be environmentally‐responsive? Can it reach discursive maturity despite its being argued as predicated on “difference”? In what form(s) will this maturity manifest? On a larger scale, the controversy revisits an age‐old divide between the arts and sciences. Can they ever achieve consilience? Can it effect change? Looking into the representations of sacred sites in Southeast
Asia, Dinah Roma Sianturi explores the critical relation of ecology, travel, and how sacred sites—as embodiments of awe, mystery, and pilgrimage/journey—may be the quintessential locus where human transactions toward environment converge.

About the speaker
Dinah Roma Sianturi is a poet, researcher and Associate Professor of Literature at the De La Salle University, Manila while affiliated with the NUS Asia Research Institute (Cultural Studies Cluster). While at ARI, she will complete a manuscript on American women’s travel writings on the Philippines from 1900 to 1930s tentatively titled “On the Heels of Glory”. She has recently started another project that extends her interest in contemporary travel theory—particularly, on the relations of ecology, travel, and
representations of sacred sites in Southeast Asia.