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Lecture 6

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University of Toronto St. George

Ggr246– Lecture 6 Nature, Nation, and the Canadian North The north as a more significantly natural, less cultural space than the rest of the nation (this is false) • Sense of dislocation/difference -these views are produced by people from the south who have ‘visited’ the north Into The Arctic II • Vanishing/mysterious landscape, absence of people, lots of wilderness, classic nature films • Seems like an environmentalist film – Into the Arctic II • Are we that far from the ideas of a human inserting himself into a remote area forsense of adventure? • Specific ways of understanding the north: visual, emotional 1. The imperial arctic 2. Canada and the idea of the North 3. Distant landscape, transformed: ‘Modernizing’ the arctic 4. Slow violence and the persistence of the military north • A lot of news coverage still falls back on old keywords: wild,mysterious • North: the direction of the adventurous, the curious, the solitary, the foolhardy… -not just a place, but also a sort of goal/experience • Common negativity about less-civilized people in thenorth • Stereotypes of northern people -Scottish as being savages, etc. • Contradictions– odyssey of Homer –if you go ‘beyond the north’ there might be fertile island • Heavenly North: Hereford Mappa Mundi, England (1300) • Mercator Projection (1569) -roughly circular continent around the polar sea, in the middle is a high mountain (his imagination of what lies in the north –there is a calm polar sea past the north) • Maps like this influence how explorers saw and enter arctic • Polar exploration only gets serious during 19thcentury -successful expeditions (they returned) resulted in a lot of media coverage/scientific news • In 19thcentury – Romanticism, Darwinism, images of the north entering the culture • Romantic polar vision of the arctic –‘sailing over a calm sea, land of wonder and beauty’ Distractions of the north: a guide to the “arctic panorama” exhibited in London’s Leicester Square,1819 • Dramatizing arctic exploration • Huge canvas of arctic landscape scenery, showing historic events • Perfect way to‘consume the glories of empire’ th • All these popular representations of the arctic in 19 century were focused on wonders and curiosities of the north (auroras, frost smoke, ghost ships) • Startling visual quality made it popular Ggr246– Lecture 6 • Often same style of representing country homes, plantations • “Bloody Fall”, John Franklin, Narrative ofa Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea (1823) -violent scene with skulls and bones in the foreground -19thcentury meets violent savagery -meets the dual role of arctic landscape -it was reported that Franklin himself had resorted to cannibalism -both ‘familiar’ (in terms of style, colours, landscape) but different • Acted as distractions from failed expeditions and explorers • Robert Falcon Scott and his team reach the South Pole (1912) -they died on their way back -death in pursuit in an idea -“That is the temper of men who build empires” the polar landscape as a stage for nationalism in times of crisis • Glenn Gould created 1967 radio documentary “Idea of North” -part of ‘solitude’ trilogy -a way to explore the unknown -people go to get serenity, peace, solitude -associated winter coldness, darkness, solitude, with creativity and purity • Sherrill Grace, Canada and the Idea of North (2001) The Cultural geography of northern nature: The Group of Seven • Wild and people-less landscapes • Classic representations of the north (including provincial north –northern Ontario) • Canada was viewed as a “northern nation” • Canada’s population is concentrated in the southern border • Many people will nevertravel to northern territories or even provincial north • Second half of20th century saw increased interest/investment in the north -great shift in resource extraction in the north –southern demand for resources -increased demand for environmental conservation -demands by indigenous people of the north for additional territorial rights -additional power to DEFINE the north from a northern perspective (see north as homeland, rather than frontier) • “I see a new Canada –a Canada of the North” –PM Diefenbaker realizing the “northern vision” in Inuvik (1961)July 1 s(Canada day) -Inuvik isin Northwest Territories -unveiling a monument -“first community of Arctic Circle to provide normal facilities of a Canadian town. Designed not only as a base for develop
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