Narrating the Arctic
A Cultural History of Nordic Scientific Practice

Michael Bravo and Sverker Sörlin, eds.

384pp., illustrated, ISBN 0-88135-385-X, $39.95

Narrating the Arctic


“…What sets this book apart from other older history books is that it speaks of more than the particularistic history of science in the Scandinavian north. It offers broader lessons to the cultural development of science, the ties between religion, knowledge and economics, and the inevitable clash between indigenous and newcomers. How these general historical ideas are played out in the Nordic Arctic is of equal value to understanding how these forces are being played out in Siberia or Alaska today.” —Études/Inuit/Studies


“… All told, Narrating the Arctic is laudably direct in its treatment of such touchy subjects as racism and “otherness.” It reflects much original thought in these and many other areas with a scholarship so meticulous that even the end notes to each chapter deserve full attention. This well written volume is also easy on the eye and left this reviewer thankful to scholars who are able to view their learning through a novel prism. Such eclectic and attractively presented information should appeal to a variety of serious readers with an interest in Arctic history.” —ARCTIC, Journal of the Arctic Institute of North America, Sept. 2003

“This fascinating anthology of historical studies of Nordic approaches to arctic research has a special emphasis on the study of the indigenous people of the north…Highly recommended for environmental historians, arctic area studies, and those interested in a broad approach to postcolonial studies of science, knowledge, ethnicity, and identity. Upper-division undergraduates and above.”—CHOICE

“The anthology shows how the image of the Arctic as a desolate region of pristine nature for scientists and back-to-nature lovers served as an Oriental contrast to thriving cultures in the capitals of Nordic countries. The arctic environment, the articles indicate, was of key importance to nation-building, cultural identity, notions of masculinity, and scientific discourse. Science served as a key to establish Nordic territorial and economic control of arctic landscapes and inhabitants.”—Environmental History

“… an outstanding collection of seminal essays by erudite authors concerning the history of arctic exploration. From Inuit exploratory ventures, to conflicting claims of history, to the Danish arctic research of eighty years ago, to Swedish arctic travels of a hundred and fifty years ago, Narrating the Arctic is a vivid, intense examination and scholarly analysis of the historical quest to venture onto, and discover more about, the very top of the world.”—Midwest Book Review

Table of Contents

Contents and Contributors:

Narrative and Practice – an Introduction (Michael Bravo and Sverker Sörlin)

Bodies and Voices from Ultima Thule: Inuit Explorations of the Kablunat from Christian IV to Knud Rasmussen (Michael Harbsmeier)

Rituals and Resources of Natural History: The North and the Arctic in Swedish Scientific Nationalism (Sverker Sörlin)

The Politics of Naming: Contested Observations and the Shaping of Geographical Knowledge (Urban Wråkberg)

Lauge Koch and the Mapping of North East Greenland: Tradition and Modernity in Danish Arctic Research, 1920-1940 (Christopher Ries)

Measuring Danes and Eskimos (Michael Bravo)

Arcticality: Gender, Race, and Geography in the Writings of Vilhjalmur Stefansson (Gisli Palsson)

The power to Represent. Intertextuality and Discourse in Smilla’s Sense of Snow (Kirsten Thisted)

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