Reference : The British Lady Traveller Isabella Bird in East Asia: A Theorist of Globalization?
Scientific journals : Article
Arts & humanities : History
The British Lady Traveller Isabella Bird in East Asia: A Theorist of Globalization?
Dittrich, Klaus mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Languages, Culture, Media and Identities (LCMI) >]
Homo migrans
Korean Society for Migration and Ethnicity Studies
South Korea
[en] Isabella Bird Bishop ; Travel writing ; Karl Lamprecht ; Globalization ; Cultural transfers ; Agency in global history
[en] This paper sheds new light on the British lady traveller Isabella Bird’s (1831-1904) trips to East Asia. Bird visited Japan in 1878. Subsequently she came to Korea, China and far eastern Russia in the mid-1890s. It is argued that her publications provide a unique perspective on globalization in the late nineteenth century. Bird observed how the East Asian societies were subject to major transformations as a consequence of their integration into the system of global capitalism. Contrary to other contemporary authors, however, Bird pointed out that imperialism was not the driving force of change. Instead, she saw the East Asian societies themselves engaged in efforts of transformation through the active importation of foreign knowledge. Bird’s approach of understanding global change is then compared to the German historian Karl Lamprecht (1856-1915) who argued that the capacity to learn from abroad would be decisive throughout the twentieth century. The article then introduces the concept of cultural transfers which has been developed in a Franco-German context since the 1980s and which provides a methodological tool to empirically analyse transnational learning processes. Bird, Lamprecht and the historian who study cultural transfers have in common that their explanatory models focus on the agency of the receiving context.

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