Snapshot from the Scientific Conference on Antarctic Research SCAR Humanities & Social Sciences workshop in Fort Collins, Colorado themed Antarctica and wilderness May 20-23, 2015. I presented a paper I submitted in January on Mapping Antarctic Women and Wilderness. It was also a Joint Meeting of the SCAR History Expert Group and the SCAR Social Science and Humanities Expert Group. Antarctic science and investigation is not only natural and earth sciences but explores the history, social, geopolitical and human side of Antarctica, as Wendy and I do in our book.
Overall my mind was blown with the excellent papers on pressing and intriguing or lesser-known topics from atom-free zone negotiations for Antarctica in the 1950s (Ryan Alexander Musto, US) to future concerns, the 3 M’s: marine protection, mineral exploitation and mass tourism (Alan D Hemmings, UK/Australia on “Wilderness in a Time of Increasing Antarctic Nationalism with Chaturvedi, Leane, Liggett and Salazar), to a crazy example of misguided bipolar animal transfers ie emperor penguin colony brought to northern Norway before WWII (Peder Roberts, Sweden), an exploration of ‘selling Antarctica’ in the media and advertising (Hanne Nielsen, New Zealand/Australia) and beautifully shared journals, illustrations and stories from a Chilean expedition in 1947 of the Chilean Armed Forces (M. Consuelo Léon Wöppke, Chile) and much more of note (a teaser: thinking deepness of Antarctica and environmental protection (Antonello), forgotten sealers of Antarctica (Zarankin/Howkins), Argentine nationalism and Antarctica (Roldan) Polar Archives & accessibility (Rack).
A big message is it’s important to know our past to consider our future, and to share information and have dialogue together, not stick our our research or work disciplines or spheres narrowly. The evidence is ample that Antarctica, and wilderness (and people…) worldwide is endangered in good part by human activities. I’m also assured we care and are innovative and it’s not all dire but quite hopeful.
Over the next bit I plan to share even a snippet from each paper presented as they were such high quality in both topic, content and thoughtful related discussion. We had people who work on or in Antarctica in 15 countries so it really was a microcosm of ‘international’ yet supposedly ‘stateless’ Antarctica. I’m doubly assured after having been in the Antarctic twice a good while ago and now here that many who work on Antarctica and polar issues have a special appreciation of geopolitics and they bring with them wisdom from their own countries and experiences about collaboration, science, war, history and humanity. Here’s a few photos from the workshop and also of my prototype project- a handmade and digital map of places named for and by women to the Antarctic (arrived after men, perhaps 100 years later) and how the female namesake ‘wilderness’ places are changing i.e. (Edith) Ronne iceshelf in peril due to ocean warming. The first female place names were for wives, daughters, Queens and patrons and more recently named after women who started to work in Antarctica in the 1940s. I’ve collected and started mapping over 45 place names plus notes on the changing/changed features. Workshop colleagues gave me old/new place names such as Eva Péron Bay (now Mobil Oil Bay- yuck). Through looking at female place names you can see both a kind of colonization and decolonization (the recolonization) of this ‘last’ wilderness on top of how the earth and its features from bays, valleys, icesheets transform, inevitably over time and for worse in too short a time.
I didn’t know this before arriving, but the wonderful person who opened our conference at Colorado State University, Dr Diana Wall, founding director of Colorado State University’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability, has a valley named after her in the McMurdo Dry Valleys for her work on soil ecology and it is impacted by climate change.
Through this project I’m beta testing mapping for Google Earth Engine – something purposefully (yay!) made for open-source mapping by scientists educators and citizens (like NASA maps). We also hiked in Rocky Mountain National Park and discussed comparative wilderness. Beauty. What is wilderness mean to individuals, Antarctic programs and countries? The name isn’t even translatable as one word/concept in some languages. But we do know nature, the biosphere, is what keeps us alive.
If you know female place names in Antarctica or have photos of any of these places – valleys, bays, nunataks, buttresses, capes etc. named for or by women do please let me know carol [at] caroldevine.org as I build the project and post the updatable map online. thank you to SCAR History Humanities and Social Sciences, Colorado State, Boulder Univeristy and to Adrian Howkins, Daniela Liggett, Cornelia Lüdecke, Poppy Gullett, Hanne Nielsen and everyone else for a wonderful workshop, trip through our minds and into the Colorado wild.