Identifying with Antarctica in the ecocultural imaginary

Authored by: Hanne Nielsen

Routledge Handbook of Ecocultural Identity

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  May  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138478411
eBook ISBN: 9781351068840
Adobe ISBN:


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Antarctica is physically inaccessible for most, but it lives in the imaginations of many. In Chapter 14 of the Routledge Handbook of Ecocultural Identity, Nielsen argues imagined versions of place play an important role in why and how even distant locations such as Antarctica are valued and important to modes of ecocultural identity. Given the impact of highly extractive and polluting ecocultural histories, Antarctica cannot be seen as a place apart from the rest of the world. Rather, the continent needs to be understood as a place of global importance, and one that has been and could be incorporated into the ecocultural identities of those all over planet Earth. Nielsen’s study examines two Antarctic documentaries that focus on people who live and work on the continent: Werner Herzog’s Encounters at the End of the World (2007) and Antony Powell’s Antarctica: A Year on Ice (2014). The author examines how such documentaries bring Antarctica into the everyday consciousness of people around the world, challenge preconceptions about the far south, and help audiences reimagine their own human connections and interactions with the ice.

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