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Unfreezing the ArcticScience, Colonialism, and the Transformation of Inuit Lands$
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Andrew Stuhl

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226416649

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226416786.001.0001

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Dangerous: In the Twilight of Empires

Dangerous: In the Twilight of Empires

(p.15) Chapter One Dangerous: In the Twilight of Empires
Unfreezing the Arctic

Andrew Stuhl

University of Chicago Press

This chapter tracks the Arctic experiences of Roderick MacFarlane, John Murdoch, Middleton Smith, Frank Russell, and Eduoard de Sainville to highlight transformations in imperial engagements with Inuit and the northern environment between 1850 and 1890. It argues that studying the Arctic through the British or Russian fur trade in the 1860s led scientists to identify Inuit and northern nature as dangerous, in part because the logistics of trade relations—common to both commerce and research—were mediated by Inuit. In contrast, with the arrival of a commercial whaling industry to the Beaufort Sea in the 1870s, naturalists enjoyed more widespread travel and exchange throughout the Inuit territories of the western Arctic. As a result, scientific notions of a dangerous Arctic were replaced with concerns about the effects of whaling on whale populations and Inuit cultures. The chapter ends by foreshadowing the consequences and disruptions of these relations among nature, knowledge, and society across the twentieth century.

Keywords:   Roderick MacFarlane, John Murdoch, Frank Russell, Middleton Smith, Eduoard de Sainville, fur trade, whaling, Beaufort Sea, Russian Empire, British Empire

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