18 Pages

Introduction: Medicine and Mobility: Women, Travel, and the Circulation of Colonial Knowledge

This chapter examines how British women's sojourns allowed them not only to escape from the mundane to heal themselves, but also how travel encouraged women to perform tasks of healing others. Examining how representations of doctoring emerge in narrative accounts of mid-Victorian women travelers and shape the experience of travel for many English women abroad. The chapter traces how women travelers managed both their own health and health of natives, often with a medical kit or manual at hand. While the chapter traces the representation of female doctoring as a common trope in Victorian women's travel writing, it focuses upon Lucie Duff Gordon and Isabel Burton. Duff Gordon and Burton were not trained as medical practitioners, but represented themselves as healers within their narratives. The chapter shows that it is through the narration of such, albeit amateur, medical transactions that women established a unique position for themselves as translators, mediators, and monitors of native illnesses, and by extension, social conditions.