The adage ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ could not be more apt to describe the collaborative nature of a project the scope of Three Centuries of Travel Writing by Muslim Women. A team of translators, researchers, experts, and advisors helped the editors assemble, order, and arrange the travel accounts of the forty-five authors included in the compilation. They selected accounts written across the seventeenth to the mid-twentieth century, from diverse languages and locations including Arabic, English, Indonesian, Punjabi, Turkish and Urdu. Most of the texts have been translated into English for the first time, and in a few cases only a single copy was found in obscure and inaccessible locations unearthed through years of research. Each text is preceded by a scholarly introduction that locates the author, the text and its times, and is followed by annotations and a useful list for further reading.
In organizing the collection, the editors have chosen to group the texts thematically into four main sections: ‘Travel as Pilgrimage’, ‘Travel as Emancipation and Politics’, ‘Travel as Education’ and ‘Travel for Obligation and Pleasure’. The authors hail from Central Asia, Constantinople, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, Oman, Persia and Turkey. They include pilgrims, scholars, saints, socio-religious reformers, princesses, bureaucrats, nationalists, educators, writers and actors. They come from aristocratic classes or even from more ‘modest’ backgrounds.