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Acting artefacts: on the meanings of material culture in Antarctica." In Antarctica and the Humanities
Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment. (Resource Exctraction and Sustainable Arctic Communities)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6461-7734
2016 (English)In: Antarctica and the Humanities / [ed] Peder Roberts, Adrian Howkins and Lize-Marie Van der Watt, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016, 159-179 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Remains of human activity in Antarctica are generally treated in two different ways – either as unwanted imprints polluting a pristine natural environment, objects alien to the continent which must be removed, or as cultural heritage which needs to be preserved. For this reason artefacts of potentially great importance for understanding and explaining the history of Antarctica are removed, while sites of arguably lesser universal value are preserved as heritage. The objective of this article is to argue for greater caution when assessing what should be treated as trash or heritage in the Antarctic. Before decisions are made to remove remains of human activities there, greater attention should be paid to the fact that these remains may acquire value in the future. Building on theoretical approaches within the fields of industrial heritage studies, history of technology and archaeology, my point of departure is an understanding that material culture can be connected with a multitude of meanings and values, depending on who is reading it and when. Remains of human activities can be ascribed values if there are actors who want to include them as part of their networks and in a historical context that works in their favor.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. 159-179 p.
Keyword [en]
Antarctica, whaling, heritage, geopolitics, actor-network theory, LASHIPA
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Research subject
History of Science, Technology and Environment
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-193129ISBN: 978-1-137-54574-9OAI: diva2:983332
LASHIPA - Large Scale Historical Exploitation of Polar Areas
Swedish Research CouncilRiksbankens Jubileumsfond

QC 20161013

Available from: 2016-09-29 Created: 2016-09-29 Last updated: 2016-10-13Bibliographically approved

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