Thesis ID: CBB001567488

Empires on Ice: Science, Nature, and the Making of the Arctic (2013)


Stuhl, Andrew (Author)

University of Wisconsin at Madison
Cronon, William
Staley, Richard A.
Loo, Tina
Mitman, Gregg A.
Cronon, William
Keller, Richard C.
Staley, Richard A.
Loo, Tina
Keller, Richard C.

Publication Date: 2013
Edition Details: Advisor: Mitman, Gregg A; Committee Members: Cronon, William, Keller, Richard C., Staley, Richard A., Loo, Tina.
Physical Details: 395 pp.
Language: English

This dissertation connects modern concerns about climate change in the Arctic to histories of environmental transformation, economic expansion, and political intervention there. I argue that the seemingly unprecedented scientific, corporate, and governmental attention paid to the top of the world today is better understood as the latest in a series of attempts to understand, exploit, and protect the region. My study is grounded in the north slope of Alaska, the Yukon Territory, and the Northwest Territories, an area I call the Western Arctic. Drawing from scientists' journals, letters, and publications--as well as oral histories with Inuit residents--I trace the development of scientific knowledge about the human and natural communities in the region. In the late 1800s, the Western Arctic was considered dangerous, which mirrored failed attempts by British and Russian imperial agents to conquer the northern fringes of the New World. As the U.S. and Canada acquired Arctic territories and sought to administer and develop them, they overhauled ideas about the place. Over the twentieth century, the Western Arctic was repeatedly imagined as at risk, which licensed scientific authority over the far north as well as political and economic interventions there. Scientific conceptions of the Western Arctic as endangered, unsettled, wild and strategic reflected both particular research practices as well as particular schemes of stewarding lands that did not belong to them. This project contributes to several historical literatures. Studies of the north in the United States and Canada have confined analyses to national borders and overlooked the roles played by scientists in northward political and economic expansion. Similarly, historians of science and empire have neglected Arctic locations as possible sites of imperial activity. A transnational perspective on the north--and its flows of ideas, goods, and people--reveals that the Arctic has always been linked to networks of power. Ultimately, this project asserts that modern notions of a New North--as a pristine wilderness only now experiencing the effects of the industrialized world--conceal troubling histories and prevent scholars from responding attentively to global warming and globalization.


Description Cited in Dissertation Abstracts International-A 76/04(E), Oct 2015. Proquest Document ID: 1640903440.

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Authors & Contributors
Sörlin, Sverker
Postnikov, Aleksey V.
Inglis, Robin
Walker, Brian M.
Froggatt, Peter
Cavell, Janice
Archives Internationales d'Histoire des Sciences
Journal of Medical Biography
Book History
Scientia Canadensis: Journal of the History of Canadian Science, Technology, and Medicine
Canadian Bulletin of Medical History/Bulletin Canadienne d'Histoire de la Medecine
Science as Culture
Scarecrow Press
Harvard University Press
Palgrave Macmillan
Yale University Press
Ashgate Publishing
University of Nebraska Press
Travel; exploration
Scientific expeditions
Indigenous peoples; indigeneity
Arctic Ocean
Franklin, John
Bernier, J. E.
Krusenstern, Adam von
Rumianstev, Nikolai Petrovich
Time Periods
19th century
20th century
18th century
21st century
20th century, early
20th century, late
Arctic regions
United States
Great Britain
Soviet Union
International Geophysical Year (IGY)

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