Indigenising the heroic era of Antarctic exploration



Publication Details

Maddison, B. (2019). Indigenising the heroic era of Antarctic exploration. In E. Leane & J. McGee (Eds.), Anthropocene Antarctica: Perspectives from the Humanities, Law and Social Sciences (pp. 135-155). London, United Kingdom: Routledge.


In September 1899, an article in London's The Strand Magazine described the landing in Antarctica of the British Antarctic Expedition the previous February. The Anglo-Norwegian expedition leader, Carsten Borchgrevink, had chosen Cape Adare, the eastern headland of the Ross Sea, as the site at which the expedition would establish itself. The objective of the expedition was to be the first to explore the continental interior and to spend a winter living on the Antarctic continent, rather than aboard ship as Adrien de Gerlache's Belgian Antarctic Expedition in 1898 had done. Unloading the tons of supplies and equipment, which included a prefabricated living hut, ten tons of coal and - indicative of how little was then known about Antarctica - a large-bore gun suitable for killing polar bears, was an arduous task, as everything had to be rowed from ship to shore in whaleboats (Crawford 1998, pp. 84-85). As we shall see, divergences in the re-telling of this episode at the start of the so-called 'Heroic' Era of Antarctic exploration illustrate some of the fault lines around indigeneity with which this chapter is concerned.

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