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On Dogs, Aurora and Ships: Bipolar Imagination in Japan
Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5709-0217
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Japan is a relative newcomer in the Arctic politics as it has no territorial claims in the Arctic, nor an early history of Arctic expeditions. Instead, modernizing Japan focused its attention to Antarctica from as early as 1910. Today, Japan is showing increasing interest in Arctic politics and management, insisting that important decisions should not be taken only by the Arctic States and the Arctic Ocean coastal States. The Japanese government view is that the Arctic “should be recognized as a part of the common heritage of mankind. The international community should protect this area and use it for peaceful purposes”. Japan explains its polar interests by being a maritime country and although the country’s main activities in the polar regions pertain to scientific research, many consider Japan’s real motivation to be in the potential Northern shipping routes. Accordingly, the Arctic figures in the government documents as empty fields of water, ice and hidden treasures, subjected to international scientific research and management – quite like the Antarctic. Indigenous people are almost invisible. I will present an ongoing research project into the commonalities in the Japanese imagination of the two poles. Through the analyses of museum exhibits and other cultural phenomena, I will discuss a variety of images where the perception of the two poles gets blurred, notably the Japanese obsession with Aurora borealis, snow fields, but also the moving bodies of icebreakers, whales – and dogs. A telling example is the story of 15 Japanese Karafuto breed dogs whose tragic fate after the first Japanese Antarctic overwinter camp has become the dominant cultural narrative of polar research. The block-buster movie of the expedition, “Tales of Antarctica”, is largely shot in the Canadian Arctic and it can be argued that the origin of the dogs in the former Northern territories of Japan (Sakhalin) helps to project Japan as a place with deep cultural ties to Arctic

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
National Category
Human Geography History Cultural Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-218181OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-218181DiVA, id: diva2:1159941
Conference
9th International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences (ICASS IX)
Projects
On Creating Cultural Heritage in Antarctica
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2016-02611
Note

QC 20171206

Available from: 2017-11-24 Created: 2017-11-24 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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Output format
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