Women’s Travel – Writing – Capital Conversion: the Case of Alma Karlin



women’s travel, travelogue, money and literature, symbolic capital, women's writing, German-language literature, Slovenian literature, Alma Karlin


The research is dedicated to the female travel phenomenon and focuses on the travelogues of the German-language writer of Slovenian origin Alma Maximiliana Karlin (1889-1950), in particular on the economic aspect of her mobility. The emphasis is on the specific connection of three categories: women's travel, women's writing and capital (both economic and cultural).The theme of money often arises on the pages of the travelogues of this writer. During the eight-year unaccompanied voyage, Karlin traveled to numerous countries, while earning money for all her trips herself. Such a model of behavior of a woman at that time was considered as very strange and even venturesome. In her ambitious multistage project, which could be called “Travel around the whole world and earn symbolic capital”, finance plays a huge role. Economic capital, obtained by her own work, allows Karlin to travel, and then turns into a discourse, which, according to the plan of the traveling writer, should become symbolic capital. The life and works of Alma Karlin are difficult to consider in the framework of a single national identity. Having Slovenian roots, she was born in Austria-Hungary, had a Yugoslavian citizenship later in her life, and used German to write her works. Her works are of interest to a researcher, among all other reasons, due to the “borderline” story of her life that shows how symbolic the category of nation is and gives serious reasons for studying into the phenomenon of nationality being a social construct. Karlin’s travelogues contain numerous examples of her unsuccessful attempts to identify her own nationality. There is a similar problem in her work's perception as well. The case of Karlin is regarded as a proof of a discursive character of the category of nationality. The paper deals with the reception of Alma Karlin's work both in Slovenia and in the German-language research and art field in connection with the phenomenon of symbolic capital.





Strange Relations: About the Co-existence of Languages and Cultures in Central and Eastern Europe