William Wells Brown: Fugitive subjectivity, travel writing, and the gaze

Christine Buzinde, Iyunolu Osagie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Travel and travel writing imply freedom of mobility and agency. That a fugitive slave like William Wells Brown could become a tourist is significant because it destabilizes our understanding of tourism. In The American Fugitive in Europe: Sketches of Places and People Abroad (New York: Jewett, Proctor & Worthington, 1855), Brown grounds his critique of his tour in the experiences of his early life as a slave and in his insistence on ethical responsibility. He interrogates the inequities of American society by revisiting European history from the perspective of the oppressed. Brown moves beyond touristic hedonism to anchor the tourist subject onto the larger canvas of historical and socio-political reality. This paper explores Brown's shifting identity through Urry (The Tourist Gaze: Leisure and Travel in Contemporary Societies, London, Sage, 1990) and MacCannell's ('Tourist Agency', Tourism Studies, vol. 1, pp. 23-38,2001) reading of the tourist gaze.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-425
Number of pages21
JournalCultural Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences


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