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Chasing referents: representations of self and other in Wilfred Thesiger's Arabian Sands and Freya Stark's The Southern Gates of Arabia

Cocking, Ben (2003) Chasing referents: representations of self and other in Wilfred Thesiger's Arabian Sands and Freya Stark's The Southern Gates of Arabia. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86309) (KAR id:86309)


Freya Stark's The Southern Gates of Arabia and Wilfred Thesiger's Arabian Sands are commonly read as the last proponents of the Arabist tradition of travel writing. Based on journeys undertaken in the 1930s and 1940s in the Hadramaut and Empty Quarter regions of Arabia, they are accounts of travels which, due to the rapid modernisation of the Arabian Peninsula, were no longer possible even a few years after they were written. With the Arabist genealogy in decline, The Southern Gates of Arabia and Arabian Sands were written at a point of transition. This thesis focuses the relationship between the representational strategies they deploy - both in written text and in their accompanying photographs - and the ideological assumptions of colonialism and imperialism in which they were grounded. In so doing, this thesis draws on the work of Edward Said, Ali Behdad, and, to an extent, Michel Foucault. Their work provides a context in which to question the representational structures and the ideological assumptions on which Stark's and Thesiger's works are based. Consequently, it is possible to see the representational strategies deployed by Stark and Thesiger, and the ways in which these strategies are categorized by gender, as part of an Arabist tradition of travel writing. However, their position at the end of the Arabist tradition also raises the issue of the extent to which their work can be seen as colluding in its demise.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Bowman, Glenn W.
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86309
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: J Political Science
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:50 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2022 23:20 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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