top of page

From my first solo trips as a 19-year-old backpacker up until my recent PhD fieldwork I have kept illustrated travel journals. On my early journeys I was often homesick, reeling from culture shock, and almost always, it seems, suffering from an embarrassing gastro-intestinal upset. Reading back through the journals can be excruciating. Amongst other issues they are laced with self-conscious musings and passages of unabashed self-pity. They also, however, hum with the excitement of discovery which accompanies solo travel, especially at the start of adulthood. For me this excitement manifested in an almost feverish drive to record as much as possible of what was going on around me. Whether I was working on a fishing boat in Alaska, visiting monasteries in the Himalayas, or being treated to lavish Pashtun hospitality, whenever I had a free moment I drew and wrote down as much as time and my energy levels would allow.

Over the past year I have revisited the journals with my academic hat on. I'm especially interested in the records which I made of my early trips to the Kalasha of northwest Pakistan, a religious minority community about which I later wrote my PhD. The journals offer me a means through which to chart the impact that my training in archaeology and anthropology has had on both the way I perceive the Kalasha, and on how I understand myself in relation to them*. 

The journals also represent an interesting curatorial resource. I have chosen to present them here in a display which includes excepts from their texts, scans of the drawings which they contain, and photographs of the occasional object that I collected on my travels.  This approach creates a whole that combines several genres including travelogue, the intimacy of portraiture, the more objective practices of diagram-making and map-making, and the curation of objects. Although an eclectic assemblage, the various elements collectively tell the story of a young adult being led across the world by his curiosity. 

*See Crowley, Tom. (Forthcoming). Drawing on the Frontier: sketchbook-cum-journals and my positionality as an ethnographer of the Kalasha.

bottom of page