Home    Number 3, 2022

“Applied Orientalism” of French Travelogues on Central Asia

[“Prikladnoi orientalizm” frankoiazychnykh travelogov o Tsentral’noi Azii]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S0869541522030071


Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 25.01.2021

Accepted: 09.07.2021

About author(s)

Snezhanna Atanova | https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9106-2984 | snej.atanova@gmail.com | The Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences (12 Rozhdestvenka St., Moscow, 107031, Russia)


Central Asia, Russian Turkestan, applied orientalism, French-language travelogues, knowledge production


Napoleon Ney, Henri Moser, Guillaume Capus, and Gabriel Bonvalot visited Turkestan in the second half of the 19th century; they chronicled their voyages in travelogues. The fascinating narratives immersed their readers in an atmosphere of adventures and dangers of an unknown land, and in between told us about the history, ethnography, politics, and economy of the region. Did French accounts have any practical significance for colonial powers at that time? In other words, were the economic, geographic, and ethnographic details accompanying the adventures used to make maps, to create plans for trade imports and exports, to gather museum collections, and to conduct academic research? I will attempt to answer these questions by referring to the travelogues of the aforementioned authors and to the concept of “applied orientalism.”


Atanova, S.A. 2022. “Prikladnoi orientalizm” frankoiazychnykh travelogov o Tsentral’noi Azii [The “Applied Orientalism” of French Travelogues on Central Asia]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 3: 124–141. https://doi.org/10.31857/S0869541522030071 EDN: HVJBQW

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