SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East

Mrs Firuz Akhtar Mohamad Bohari

BA Persian Language and Literature (Al-Zahra, Tehran) MA in Islamic and Near Eastern Studies (Washington, St Louis)
  • Teaching
  • Research


Firuz Akhtar binti Mohamad Bohari
Mrs Firuz Akhtar Mohamad Bohari
Email address:
Thesis title:
The Notions of Captivity in Arab, Malay and Persian Travel Writing from the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Century
Year of Study:
Internal Supervisors

PhD Research

Travel interprets freedom as a different dimension; as a Malay proverb says, "Jauh perjalanan, luas pandangan" which means the further you travel, the wider your view becomes. This suggests an association between perspectives, experience and maturity, and therefore with an upgrade of selfhood through travel, it expresses the notion of freedom in travel despite the real situation of the traveller. This is the basis of an enquiry into whether the type of traveller involved may affect the expression of a travel narrative.

Travellers are classified into various roles, and it is revealing that only one such category expresses the idea of enslavement, which is that of captive. The diversity in what being a physical captive actually means, sparks curiosity about another dimension of captivity – mental captivity. Despite being a free traveller, who knows whether in mind he is imprisoned behind imaginary bars? Since travelling is normally synonym to freedom in movement, maturity and wisdom, can a traveller realize the true meaning of captivity and freedom through their experience? To complicate the matter further, this begs a question of the interplay of captivity and freedom in travel literature. In other words, what does travel literature tells us about the notion of captivity?

In my research, I will use the term ‘captivity’ multi-dimensionally: first, physical captivity which involves physical captive or a slave who is caught and restrained by someone in a certain condition or place. This captive may be imprisoned physically, but the mind/spirit roams freely. The second category is mental captivity, where a person may be free physically but in reality is trapped because of ideology or beliefs. This ‘captive’ is restricted in certain activities or ideologies despite encountering no physical bounds. The third type is conceptual captivity, for instance, a kind of captivity concerning time and space.



  • Comparative Literature (Arabic-Persian-Malay)
  • Travel Literature