Antarctica is unique in that is governed by the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) and is not ‘owned’ by any one nation. Despite this, and the environmental protection built into the ATS, Antarctica has been ‘sold’ in many ways. Ever since the Heroic Era, the exotic lure of the Far South has been used by explorers as a way to gain sponsorship for expeditions. In more recent times, the tourist experience of the continent is a prime example of a commercial operation that offers a particular version of the South. Finally, Antarctic structures have been used to promote ideas and environmental ideals.
This is where I come in, with 3.5 years of my life in tow. (That seems a long time, but when you think about the 750,000+ year ice cores being examined by EPICA, it suddenly pales in comparison). I am writing my PhD on Antarctica and Advertising, asking how and why the continent has been used for commercial purposes.
Why? Because gaining an understanding of how Antarctica has been ‘sold’ in various ways and used to facilitate a range of commercial transactions will provide an insight into the ways the continent has been imagined, conceptualised and represented. This in turn will help to create a better understanding of the ways Antarctica has been valued, in a variety of senses.
Image: Dr Wolfgang Rack