I am a historical geographer interested in critical histories of Arctic exploration. Below are some of the themes which I work with in my research.
Historical Geographies of Exploration
My research contributes to literatures offering critical reflection on historical processes of travel and exploration. Challenging some of the hagiographic tendencies within these histories, my research seeks to contextualise exploratory practices in the Arctic within broader historical processes including imperial expansion and colonisation; developments in techno-science; and the representation of both people and environments.
I am also interested in the institutions which supported exploration, the (geo)political contexts in which expeditions took place, and the gendered and racialised ‘cultures of exploration’ that were always at play as these various expeditions unfolded.
The Arctic in the Geographical Imagination
My work seeks to understand how the Arctic came to be imagined within prevailing European and North American discourses at the turn of the twentieth century. In particular I have examined the role that geographical knowledge has played in this process and have studied how Arctic exploration established the Arctic as a particular geographical region.
My doctoral research focussed on the role that the Royal Geographical Society played in the collection, circulation and communication of knowledge and ideas about the Arctic. My thesis shed light on the ways in which key actors within such learned institutions were able to exert significant influence over how such ideas came to be shaped and understood.
Arctic Colonial Encounters and Indigenous Intermediaries
Much of my work has been centred around understanding the historical processes that took place during moments of colonial encounter in the Arctic. I am interested in how explorers described these encounters in their journals and reports, and how these descriptions in turn depicted Inuit and other Arctic indigenous communities in problematic and racialised ways. These encounters also provided the basis for scientific descriptions of Arctic indigenous peoples and informed scholarly debates taking place in subjects such as Geography, Anthropology and Archaeology.
My work also tries to identify the various roles played by indigenous peoples within these histories and uses the concept of ‘indigenous intermediaries’ to reveal the vital contributions they made to the expedition enterprise. I also try to demonstrate that indigenous peoples themselves were key contributors to knowledge about the Arctic and that many of the scholarly debates above were in fact shaped by these informants.
Histories & Geographies of Science
Much of my research has built on ongoing discussions within the Histories of Science and Science and Technology Studies (STS) literatures and in particular my work has drawn on the recent turn to the more spatial and more global aspects of such thinking. Studying the circulation and reception of scientific knowledge, my work has sought to conceptualise the movement of ideas through different scales and has investigated the processes which have permitted scientific truth-claims to achieve broader scholarly prominence. I am also interested in identifying indigenous contributors to scientific knowledge production and studying the ways in which these contributions come to be marginalised or obscured within scientific narratives.
Histories & Philosophies of Geographical Knowledge
I am a geographer by training so my research also seeks to investigate the histories and traditions of geographical enquiry. I am interested in the ways in which the discipline has been influenced by ongoing societal processes but has also been instrumental in setting intellectual and political agendas. I am particularly interested in the colonial logics that have been, and remain, fundamental to geographical knowledge production, and am keen to investigate new ways in which these problematic legacies can be challenged and reworked.