Nielsen_whole_thesis.pdf (23.84 MB)
Brand Antarctica : selling representations of the south from the 'heroic era' to the present
thesisposted on 2023-05-27, 09:19 authored by Hanne NielsenHanne Nielsen
Antarctica is a powerful symbol that has been put to use for a range of commercial ends. This thesis analyses advertisements and related cultural products in order to identify common framings that have emerged in representations of Antarctica from the late nineteenth century to the present. It provides the historical, social, cultural and geographic context for understanding the ways the south has been used to sell products, as well as stories, experiences and ideas. Previous scholars have examined books, films, photography, music and theatre to explore attitudes towards Antarctica, but forms of cultural production explicitly associated with commerce have so far been overlooked ‚Äö- perhaps because of the exceptionalist view of the continent as disassociated from capitalism and the market. However, from the early whalers and sealers who headed south for their hunt, to modern-day brands that sponsor extreme expeditions in exchange for naming rights, trade interests have never been far from the ice. Analysing how those interests are conveyed to a mass market back home, via the media, provides useful insights into the ways Antarctica has been framed, imagined and valued at various points in time. As an interdisciplinary work, this thesis draws variously on approaches and scholarship from media studies, literary studies, cultural history, and cultural geography. A series of dominant ways of culturally framing Antarctica are identified and explored through close readings of advertising images and related cultural products. Examples are drawn from a database of around 500 English-language advertisements that feature Antarctica (included in an appendix). Advertisements were published in newspapers, magazines, and online sources, and located through archival and online searching. Drawing on a wide range of sources, the thesis contextualizes these commercial cultural products within media and Antarctic history. The first of the three sections in this thesis exposes the parallels between the development of the modern media industry and land-based Antarctic exploration. Using the Heroic Era‚ÄövÑvp of exploration (1895-1922) and Admiral Richard Byrd's second Antarctic expedition (1933-35) as case studies, it highlights the interplay between media, commerce, and expeditions. The intricacies of expedition sponsorship and product placement are addressed, as is as the production of Antarctic narratives. Drawing on this historical contextualization, the second section provides insight into how the developing media drew upon particular framings of Antarctica to sell a range of products. A series of case studies is used to argue that Antarctica has been presented variously as a place for heroes, a place of extremes, a place of purity, and a place that is fragile ‚Äö- frames that overlap with each other and evolve historically. The final section considers Antarctica as a travel destination, and outlines the ways the continent has been used ‚Äö- both physically and metaphorically ‚Äö- as a place of transformation. By identifying and examining the cultural frames through which Antarctica has been viewed, and tracking how values and priorities towards the continent have changed over time, this thesis makes an innovative contribution to the emerging field of Humanities-based Antarctic Studies.
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