Marco Polo, the outsider; Ibn Battuta, the insider Essay

Marco Polo, the outsider; Ibn Battuta, the insider Essay

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Nowadays the wide array of transportation means and infrastructures at our disposal has made it relatively easy for us to travel from one country to another; even when those countries are thousands of miles away from each other. However, during the 13th and 14th centuries, travelling was not that easy. Yet, two men, the Italian tradesman Marco Polo and the Moroccan Jurist Ibn Battuta became famous for having managed to perform extremely long distance journeys away from their home country. At the end of their long travels, both men shared their experiences with the world via the books, The Travels of Marco Polo and The Travels of Ibn Battuta. An analysis of those two texts reveals two things. On one hand, Marco Polo remained a cultural outsider to the people he met during his travels, thus enhancing his power of observation and stimulating his curiosity. On the other hand, Ibn Battuta travelled as an insider, and consequently he judged the people he met only in light of his Muslim background.

For the purpose of better understanding, I start by providing some background information about each of the two men. Marco Polo was an Italian citizen born into a wealthy Venetian merchant family. His most significant travel experience came in 1271, when he set out with his father Nicolo and his uncle Maffeo on a journey to the court of the Mongol Emperor of China, Kubilai Khan. Polo returned only twenty four years later to his homeland of Venice. On the other hand, Ibn Battuta was a jurist from Morocco who left his native city- Tangier, in 1325, for a journey to the East that would cover a total of seventy-five thousand miles and keep him twenty nine years away from home. In this essay, I will be dealing primarily with the aforementioned ex...


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...al differences in the narratives of The Travels of Marco Polo and The Travels of Ibn Battuta, one should recognize that they both provide a lot of practical information and knowledge to the readers.



Works Cited

Dunn, Ross E., The adventures of Ibn Battuta, a Muslim traveler of the fourteenth century,
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986; London: Croom Helm, 1986.

Hage, G. “Insiders and Outsiders” in Beilharz, P. and Hogan, T. (eds).
Sociology: Place, Time and Division. South Melbourne: Oxford University .2006

Ibn Battuta, Travels in Asia and Africa 1325-1354, tr. and ed. H. A. R. Gibb (London: Broadway
House, 1929)

Polo, Marco. The Travels of Marco Polo: The Venetian. Trans. |. Marsden-Wright. New York:
Orion, 1958. Print.

Wolf, Ken. Personalities and Problems: Interpretive Essays in World Civilizations. Boston:
McGraw-Hill, 2005. Print.

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