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Polar Knowledges

Research in this sub-theme is concerned with knowledge construction in and of the polar regions, with regards to ethnographies of science, histories of geographical thought, indigenous cosmologies and ontologies, polar geopolitics, cryopolitics, and regional governance. A key interest is to problematize what is understood, framed and articulated as "the Arctic" and "the Antarctic" in public, political, and scientific discourses. Many projects in this sub-theme are associated with the Scott Polar Research Institute.

Research projects

Research projects currently being undertaken on this theme include:

The influence of periodicals and their editorial contexts on scientific discourses of the Arctic, 1789-1914

The influence of periodicals and their editorial contexts on scientific discourses of the Arctic, 1789-1914

As the Central Arctic Ocean's ice melts, the Arctic region is attracting more and more attention from countries around the globe, including European states. To understand the risks and potentials of the Arctic ice melt, governments depend on scientific research. The more the Arctic becomes the focus of European and world-wide governments, economies and socio-cultural endeavours, the more the communicational infrastructure that carries scientific findings and knowledge on this region needs to be reliable. This project aims to further a central element of this infrastructure: the scientific journal.

Arctic Environmental Humanities

Arctic Environmental Humanities

As the Arctic gains greater visibility among academics and diverse publics, we see an urgent need for humanities scholars to help shape the current debates and research priorities too often limited to the natural and social sciences. This rise in awareness of Arctic issues coincides with widespread academic initiatives in the emerging interdisciplinary field of environmental humanities. These growing interests in the Arctic and in the environmental humanities are in turn both catalyzed by the climate crisis; the urgency of this crisis is central to, but not exhaustive of, our collective commitment to Arctic environmental humanities (AEH).

Instruments of scientific governance? Historical geographies of Halley Bay, 1956 – present

Instruments of scientific governance? Historical geographies of Halley Bay, 1956 – present

This project examines the emergence of scientific governance in Antarctica by focusing on the Halley Bay research station. Halley Bay was established by the Royal Society in 1956 in preparation for the International Geophysical Year, 1957-58. The scientific station operated continually until 2017, when overwintering became too dangerous due to a growing crack in the Brunt Ice Shelf. The station has become a critical centre for global science, including the discovery of the ozone hole in the 1980s.

Arctic Cultures - Sites of collection in the formation of the European and American Northlands

Arctic Cultures - Sites of collection in the formation of the European and American Northlands

ARCTIC CULT investigates the construction of the Arctic that emerged from the exploration of the region by Europeans and North Americans and their contacts with indigenous people from the middle of the sixteenth century. During the exploration and colonisation of the Arctic, particular texts, cartographic representations and objects were collected and returned to sites like London, Copenhagen, Berlin and Philadelphia. The construction of the Arctic thereby became entwined with the growth of colonial museum cultures and, indeed, western modernity.

Earlier projects