Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Circumpolar Science: Scandinavian Approaches to the Arctic and the North Atlantic, ca. 1920 to 1960

  • Sverker Sörlin (a1)
Abstract
Argument

The Scandinavian countries share a solid reputation as longstanding contributors to top level Arctic research. This received view, however, veils some deep-seated contrasts in the ways that Sweden, Norway, and Denmark have conducted research in the Arctic and the North Atlantic. In this paper it is argued that instead of focusing on the geographical determinism of science – the fact that the Arctic is close to, indeed part of, Scandinavian territories – we should look more closely at the geopolitics of science to understand the differences and similarities between these three Nordic countries. Through case studies of, mainly, Swedish Arctic and North Atlantic glaciology in the 1920s through to the 1940s, and of Norwegian preparations in the 1950s for the International Geophysical Year 1957/58, the paper demonstrates how different styles of research – research agendas, methodological choices, collaborative patterns, international networks, availability of infrastructure, relations to politics and power – are conditioned on economic interests and strategic and geopolitical trajectories, either these are explicitly put in the forefront of scientific priorities as in the case of Norway in the 1950s, or when they are manifestly disregarded in the name of scientific internationalism, as in the case of Swedish glaciology. The case of Danish colonial science in Greenland is only cursorily drawn into this analysis but corroborates the overall thesis. The analysis of this wider science politics of Scandinavian circumpolar science is exercised against a brief introductory backdrop of Arctic science historiography. Its chief message is that the analysis of polar science applying modern theory and method of the social studies of science is comparatively recent and that the full potential of merging the literature of Arctic science and exploration with those of security, geopolitics, indigenous voices, and the politics of nationalism is yet to be realized.

Copyright
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Hans W Ahlmann . 1942. “Studies in North-East Greenland, Part III: Accumulation and Ablation on the Fröya Glacier: Its Regime in 1938–39 and in 1939–40.” Geografiska Annaler 24:122.

David Arnold . 1996. The Problem of Nature: Environment, Culture and European Expansion. Oxford: Blackwell.

Guy Stewart Callendar . 1938. “The Artificial Production of Carbon Dioxide and Its Influence on Temperature.” Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society 64 (275):223240.

John Cawood . 1977. “Terrestrial Magnetism and the Development of International Collaboration in the Early Nineteenth Century.” Annals of Science 34:551587.

Elisabeth Crawford , Terry Shinn and Sverker Sörlin , eds. 1993. Denationalizing Science: The Contexts of International Scientific Practice, Sociology of the Sciences Yearbook 16. Dordrecht, Boston & London: Kluwer.

Aant Elzinga . 1993. “Antarctica: The Construction of a Continent by and for Science.” In Denationalizing Science: The Contexts of International Scientific Practice, edited by Elisabeth Crawford , Terry Shinn , and Sverker Sörlin , Sociology of the Sciences Yearbook 16, 73106. Dordrecht, Boston & London: Kluwer.

Kristine C. Harper 2003. “Research from the Boundary Layer: Civilian Leadership, Military Funding and the Development of Numerical Weather Prediction (1946–1955).” Social Studies of Science 33:667696.

Kristine C. Harper 2008. Weather by the Numbers: The Genesis of Modern Meteorology. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

Louis Rey , et al.1984. Unveiling the Arctic. Fairbanks AL: University of Alaska Press.

Sverker Sörlin . 2009c. “The Global Warming that Did Not Happen: Historicizing Glaciology and Climate Change.” In Nature's End: History and the Environment, edited by Paul Warde and Sverker Sörlin , 93114. London: Palgrave MacMillan.

Spencer Weart . [2003] 2008. The Discovery of Global Warming. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Science in Context
  • ISSN: 0269-8897
  • EISSN: 1474-0664
  • URL: /core/journals/science-in-context
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 1
Total number of PDF views: 16 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 140 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 27th March 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.