Contesting National and Gender Boundaries: Flora Tristan’s Promenades dans Londres

This article shows how the French feminist and socialist Flora Tristan uses discourses on nationality and ideas of foreignness and exclusion to challenge contemporary gender ideologies in Promenades dans Londres (1840). She casts herself in the role of a disinterested and invisible observer and knowledgeable narrator who describes another nation, England, whose population is marked as “other" and inferior, particularly in her description of her visit to the houses of Parliament. Tristan aligns herself with English travellers such as Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and orientalises the houses of Parliament, thereby simultaneously endorsing and overturning notions of civilisation and superiority, the basis of Western patriarchy. At the same time, by adopting the role of a victim and accusing the members of Parliament of inappropriate behaviour and disrespect, Tristan conceals her own transgressions and establishes an alternative set of social rules. This strategy is repeatedly adopted in her work. (BP)

Pauk, Barbara.
Volume 2008-2009 Fall-Winter; 37(1-2): 123-35.