02 February 2017

Review: Imperial Eyes by Mary Louise Pratt

Trade paperback, 276 pages
Published 2008 (originally 1992)
Borrowed from the library
Read January 2013
Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation
by Mary Louise Pratt

Like many good critical books I read during the final flurry of my Ph.D. exams, I kind of forgot about this one until I went back over my notes to write this review-- a mere four years since I read the book. Pratt has some good insights into the imperialist/scientific/capitalist discourse of the nineteenth century, showing how scientific ways of seeing and imperial ones are entangled, how the Europeans culturally constructed their colonial authority, how "a woman [...] is not to see but to be seen, or at least she is not be seen seeing" (102), and how supposedly colonial metaphors of understanding were really ones of control (if you paint a landscape, you're actually making yourself the producer, for example). I wasn't as interested in imperialism and power then as I am now; I should go back over it and see what new insights I can glean.

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