“Fragility”

The next theme I’m looking at in my PhD is “Fragility.” This encompasses ideas of environmentalism, the Anthropocene, and melting ice. Situated within a particular context, in terms of both world environmental movements and the development of environmental instruments within the Antarctic Treaty System, this theme sees Antarctic exceptionalism transform into connectedness, with the continent being treated as part of the global climate system. Typical advertisements that come under the “Fragility” umbrella feature either icescapes, or a pointed lack of ice. Links to the polar environment are usually made visually, and augmented by the use of captions or other text. Two distinct messages emerge from these advertisements – those that advocate using a product to help save the cryosphere pictured…

ABB co2 advert 2005

and those that call for direct environmetnal action, or use the ice to stand for change globally.
WWF fridge climate_2_412202

This is an interesting section to write because of the crossover with Arctic adverts. Unless there is a penguin or a polar bear present, the icescape could be at either end of the earth. I actually don’t think this matters – if we are starting to see Antarctica and the Arctic as part of a global system, then melting ice at either end of the earth will have an impact everywhere else. Nevertheless, Antarctica does have a unique human history, so it’s worth looking at specific Antarctic adverts, as well as the times they converge with other icescapes. Justifying the Antarctic focus of my project is certainly something that will be addressed in my introduction in further detail, and I expect that the upcoming book on Antarctica and the Humanities (Ed. Roberts, Howkins, van der Watt) will be most useful in this regard.

elledeoration.ai

Another text that’s been useful this week is Marcus Nüsser and Ravi Baghel’s “The emergence of the Cryoscape: Contested narratives of Himalayan Glacier Dynamics and Climate Change.” Nüsser and Baghel propose the term “cryoscape” as “a conceptual framework to analyse the emergence of Himalyan glaciers in the context of a dynamic, globally imagined mediascape.” (138). Cryoscape is an amalgamation of the terms “cryosphere” and “landscape”, used not simply to describe and area of ice, but to recognize that the meaning of glaciers is produced by both physical phenomena and social practices. The paper argues that “developing an understanding of cryoscapes is no less important than investigations of the cryosphere, because it is the meaning given to glaciers that affects human responses to these changes.” (156). While the research looks at the context of the Himalyas, the concept of cryoscape is directly applicable in the Antarctic context. Replace “glacier” with “Antarctica” and the paper gets even more interesting for my research. I’m still getting my head around how this lens can be used in the context of a continent of glaciers and young human history, but I have a feeling it will be a very useful, both for framing the theme of fragility, and for justifying why the humanities can offer useful perspectives on Antarctica. Watch this space…

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