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Department of Geography



Naï Zakharia

PhD in Polar Studies student

Gender and histories of Arctic field science, 1900-1950



  • 2020: Heritage Management and Research Intern, UNESCO Beirut Field Office, Culture Sector (Beirut, Lebanon)
  • 2019: Researcher/ Assistant Archivist, UMAM Documentation and Research (Beirut, Lebanon)
  • 2018: Cataloguing Volunteer, The Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) Archives (London, UK)
  • 2017-2018: Assistant Curator (Voluntary), UCL Ethnographic Collection (London, UK)


  • 2020-present: PhD Polar Studies, Newnham College, University of Cambridge
  • 2017-2019: MA Material and Visual Culture (Distinction), University College London (London, UK)
  • 2011-2015: BFA, The School of Visual Arts (New York, NY)


  • AHRC Open-Oxford-Cambridge Doctoral Training Partnership
  • Cambridge European and Newnham College Scholarship


I am researching the histories of British women in Arctic field science between 1900 and 1950. I focus on Isobel Wylie Hutchison, Ethel Lindgren, Phyllis Wager and Joan Newhouse, between whom fieldwork in the Arctic, typically an arena of heroic masculine endeavour, is the chief commonality. Their experiences otherwise offer contrasting examples, within and beyond disciplinary boundaries, of "legitimate" and amateur science, and shed light on women's position within the field sciences and their peripheries at the time. I engage with the field sciences epistemologically to challenge what is considered scientific knowledge, for instance, by placing domesticity and "dwelling in the field" at the heart of the experience of fieldwork, and reframing the Arctic as a field site constituted by both gendered and racialised relationships of varying intimacy.

My research is jointly supervised by Professor Richard Powell and Professor Paul Smith at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, with input from Charlotte Connelly, Curator of the Polar Museum.

Previously, I obtained an MA with Distinction in Material and Visual Culture at University College London, where my research focused on cultural memory, heritage and the politics of archiving in Lebanon.