Historical boats

Project: In transit. Ocean liner travels to and from Asia in the early 20th century

This project explores the roles of boat travel to and from Asia in forming early 20th century ideas and knowledge about the colonial. Using Swedish missionary travels and travel writing the project analyses how such understandings were negotiated, changed and formed in transit.

Project information

Project manager
Malin Gregersen
1 Jan 2023–31 Dec 2024

More about the project

This pilot project investigates the role of transoceanic travels in shaping colonial ideas and knowledge in the early 20th century. These travels led to the encounters between people with different experiences of interactions with, dependences on and involvement in imperialism and colonial projects. The project focuses on these encounters and how understandings and knowledge were affected, transferred and transformed in and by the encounter. It analyses the accounts of Swedish passengers, exploring the transfer and negotiation of ideas and knowledge between passengers and crew.

By mapping travels and analyzing narratives from these journeys, the project aims at increasing our understanding of processes of change when knowledge and attitudes were negotiated onboard. The study argues that these journeys were more than mere transportation; they were transformative spaces where passengers could redefine their beliefs. Thus, narratives from these transits also become interesting as travel writing.

The project maps travels carried out by missionaries of the Church of Sweden mission and the Swedish Mission Covenant to and from Colombo and Shanghai between 1900 and 1930 – and analyses letters and other texts from a selection of these travels.

The project is part of the research in Linnaeus University Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies