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The famous travel writings of Ibn Battuta and Sir John Mandeville convey formative racial, political, and sociocultural dynamics that shape their respective regions and time periods. This paper investigates how their travel narratives manipulate the reader into accepting the authors’ definitions of otherness through the lens of race, religion, and alterity. Their accounts address elements such as bodily difference, standards of social hospitality, and religious customs from untrustworthy yet popularly accepted standpoints, indirectly promoting reform of other cultures towards their own worldviews. Although Ibn Battuta is a historical figure whose travels across the Islamic world are documented in written accounts, the real identity of Sir John Mandeville is still unknown; despite this inherent gap between fact and fiction, their narratives are both instrumental in the social construction of race in the Middle Ages which still affect issues of racism in the modern world.


Undergraduate Research Awards - 2023 Finalist, Junior/Senior category

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