Cosmopolitanism, colonial shopping, and the servant problem: nurse Ida E. Cliffe’s travels in wartime India

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Ida E. Cliffe was posted in India as a nurse during the First World War. In a travel memoir published sixty years later, she captures her extensive travels across wartime colonial India. Her travel diary combines two distinct positions – that of the woman-coloniser recording her travel in the colonies, and that of the nurse in a war-zone. It focuses on the British coloniser’s home-life in India, the picturesque landscape of the country, the cosmopolitanism of its people, and its recent history. This article explores the problematic nuances in Cliffe’s celebration of colonial cosmopolitanism, her shopping for colonial artefacts and her appreciation of the picturesque embedded within the subtext of pride in British imperialism. It demonstrates not only the complexities in the figure of the female imperial traveller, but also the heteroglossia in the genre of women’s travel writing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)274-290
Number of pages17
JournalStudies in Travel Writing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes

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