Becoming a geographical scientist: oral histories of Arctic fieldwork

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Abstract

This paper examines the development of a geographical sensibility amongst field scientists involved in the Polar Continental Shelf Project (PCSP) during the late 1950s and early 1960s. This is achieved by using oral histories collected from scientists and other field personnel. These oral testimonies reveal a number of important issues for historians of geography. These include the interrelation of scientific practices in the field and the association of an interdisciplinary stance towards Arctic science with a particular understanding of geographical identity. It appears that the community of actors taking vocational and professional meaning from the practice of geography is much larger than is usually considered to be the case. The paper concludes by discussing the implications for debates about disciplinary identity and belonging in geography.

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