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River running through countryside; red dirt; trees

17th Borders and Crossings Travel Writing Conference: Travelling differently

21–23 July 2020 (with special events on 19 and 20 July)
The conference will focus on differences and diversity in means and experiences of travel. It will be held in Australia, a settler-majority nation on Aboriginal land, located at the intersection of Asia and the Pacific.


The first of the ‘Borders and Crossings’ conferences, a series devoted to the international, interdisciplinary study of travel writing, was organised by Glenn Hooper and Tim Youngs, and held at Magee College, Derry in 1998. Travel literature was at that time far from mainstream as an area of academic research, but the intervening two decades have witnessed a major shift in attitudes towards the genre, with the emergence of dedicated journals, scholarly associations and other academic apparatus associated with the building of a new field.

Borders and Crossings has played a catalytic role in these processes as it has provided a forum for scholars across a range of disciplines and from a wide variety of national contexts to meet regularly, to explore an increasingly rich corpus of travel writing, and to debate its centrality to the arts, humanities and social sciences.

Key dates

  • Call for papers: open now
  • Proposals of abstracts close: 1 March 2020

Notification of abstract acceptance: from January 2020

  • Early bird registrations open: 31 January 2020
  • Early bird registrations close: 30 April 2020
  • Standard registrations open: 8 March 2020
  • Standard registrations close: 30 June 2020

Special pre-conference events

  • Sunday 19 July: Special talk by Mónica Szurmuk on prominent Jewish-Argentinian journalist and novelist Alberto Gerchunoff, at Mandelbaum House, University of Sydney. Free to conference participants.
  • Monday 20 July: Travelling whales! July is in the middle of whale-migration season and one of the best times to go whale watching in Sydney. We are chartering a boat for a 3-hour excursion from Sydney Harbour. Minimum 40 participants, maximum 72. Cost: $50 per person for 40 people; the more people, the lower the cost per person (standard commercial rate is $65 per person).

We will provide more details about these events when registrations open in early 2020.


  • We invite conference participants to submit abstracts on the theme of "travelling differently".
  • Abstracts should be no more than 250 words, with titles limited to 20 words.

Enquiries: please email

Keynote speakers



We welcome a diverse range of sub-themes and ideas, including the following suggestions.

How have borders changed? How are they changing? What makes them more or less porous? What factors impact on who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’?

Much of our world has been shaped by north-south interactions, but north-north interactions continue to dominate the global cultural conversation at the same time as south-south interactions are emerging as new vehicles for political and cultural exchange.

How do contemporary shifts in political, economic and cultural power impact on the ways in which ideas travel?

In countries such as Australia, Indigenous people have travelled lands and continents for millennia, but modern societies create new challenges: those of displacement and ‘exile within’. Other racialised minorities, and indeed women and LGBTI populations, also face different challenges in travelling, whether material (personal safety, less access to the means to travel), psychological, cultural or symbolic. 

A country such as Australia is well-placed to know how the transport of animals around the globe has impacted on ecosystems, cultures and economies in our Anthropocene age. How do animals feature in travel writing? What symbolic roles do they play?

Asylum seekers, Indigenous peoples and all others displaced due to a range of natural and human-made catastrophes experience travel differently from those who have a choice in the matter. How is their experience documented and imagined?

Humans are collectors – whether purchasers or plunderers – and transporters of things. What do ‘travelling objects’ come to symbolise in the ways we talk and write about travel?

Travellers – whether human or inanimate, whether exiled or ‘born displaced’, whether in times of war or times of peace – also experience return, in life and after death. What is the place of repatriation in our cultural narratives?

Languages also travel the globe, often becoming means of literary expression as second or third languages of the writers. Words also travel through translation, or travel from orality to page as written forms are developed for traditional languages. How does the language of expression impact on the ways in which we write and read about travel?

Our artistic traditions, from visual arts through to performance and cinema, have developed rich hybridities through the travel of styles and models from one culture to another.

In our internet-facilitated age, virtual travel is a reality for many, not only vicarious tourism but also the virtual transnational workplace.

Stories of travel lie at the core of science-fiction and fantasy writing. Indeed, one cannot imagine other universes without travelling to them.

Our age has seen an explosion of philanthropic travel, and documentation thereof, whether through a growing body of testimony by volunteers working for NGOs or through the ubiquitous imagery of philanthrocapitalists travelling the Third World. When is one "travelling for others"? How does the narrative of travel change?

From the plague to cholera to AIDS to H1N1 (the virus that caused the pandemics of Spanish flu in 1919-1920 and swine flu in 2009) to Ebola, the world has experienced its share of pandemics. Travelling diseases become imbricated with the history of peoples, cultures, nations, and have often played central roles in travel writing, whether testimonial or fictional.

Why, and how, does one ‘teach’ travel writing? What roles does travel writing play in our curricula, whether in literature, foreign languages, area studies, international studies or history?


There are various options on or near campus, some offering special discounts for conference attendees.

Atlas Serviced Apartment, Capmerdown

13 Layton Street Camperdown NSW 2050

For a 15 per cent discount for conference dates (20-23 July 2020) use code BAC20.

Collectionist Hotel

9-13 Marsden Street Camperdown NSW 2050

Conference discount
  • Stay dates with discount: 13-19 April 2020 inclusive (no minimum stay requirement)
  • Early booker discount: 25 per cent off bar effective today until 13 March 2020 (rooms are subject to availability)
  • Promo code: BAC2020EB
  • Book through the website (link above).
Regular discount
  • 15% off bar from 14 March until 13 April 2020 (rooms are subject to availability)
  • Promo Code: BAC2020
  • Book through the website (link above).
Novotel Sydney Central

169-179 Thomas Street Sydney NSW 2000

For bookings between 14–18 April 2020 use booking code: EURO0420

Guests will need to call or email the hotel to make a booking (the code won't work on the website).

Veriu Broadway

35 Mountain Street Broadway NSW 2007

Book through the website and use code: Eurovision (this code is shared with another conference).

Adina Apartment Hotel Central Sydney

2 Lee Street Sydney NSW 2000

Adina Apartment Hotel Chippendale

74-80 Ivy Street Chippendale NSW 2008

Darlington@The University of Sydney Student Accommodation

152 City Road Darlington NSW 2008

IBIS Sydney World Square

382-384 Pitt Street Sydney NSW 2000

Mercure Sydney

818-820 George Street Chippendale NSW 2009

Meriton Serviced Apartments Campbell Street

6 Campbell Streel Sydney NSW 2000

Ryals Hotel

253 Broadway Glebe NSW 2037

Rydges Camperdown

9 Missenden Road Camperdown NSW 2050

Sydney Central YHA

11 Rawson Place Sydney NSW 2000

Urbanest Glebe

25 Arundel Street Glebe NSW 2037

Vulcan Hotel

500 Wattle Street Ultimo NSW 2007

YHA Australia Glebe

262-264 Glebe Point Road Glebe NSW 2037

St Paul's Events and Stays

9 City Road Camperdown NSW 2050


St Paul’s serviced accommodation is delighted to extend a special accommodation rate of $160 for a Standard Studio room for conference delegates. To book the special rate, please email and mention the code BNC0720.


Headshot of Professor Bronwyn Winter
Professor Bronwyn Winter
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