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HISTORY & CLASSICS SEMINAR | Have You Seen the Esquimaux Sketch of the Ships?



Start Date

21st Oct 2016 3:00pm

End Date

21st Oct 2016 4:30pm

Inuit Intelligence, Imperial Knowledge, and the Contested Archives of the Franklin Expedition

History & Classics in the School of Humanities seminar presented by

Dr Annaliese Jacobs
University of Tasmania/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

In 1845, HMS Erebus and Terror, under the command of Sir John Franklin, vanished into the ice of Lancaster Sound, never to be seen again. Scores of expeditions were sent in search of the missing men, returning with a mixture of Inuit intelligence, ‘relics’, and a single scrap of paper to testify to their fate. In September 2014 and 2016, the ships themselves were found on the ocean floor, discoveries that were hailed worldwide as unprecedented reconciliation of Western science and indigenous knowledge, and a basis for claims of Canadian sovereignty over the Northwest Passage.

The recent discoveries of Erebus and Terror are, in fact, the most recent act in an imperial drama that began in 1849 when a whaling captain returned from Baffin Island bearing an Inuit map showing four ships stuck in the ice - interpreted to be Erebus, Terror, and two rescue vessels (HMS Enterprise and Investigator). The map was coveted, analyzed, and reformulated by a network of Franklin’s friends and family that stretched from Canada to Van Diemen’s Land, one that linked scientists, naval officers, humanitarians, and worried families. What emerged was a fraught contest over trustworthiness and authority, in which mobile Indigenous people spoke for and about voiceless explorers, and in which the silences of the pack ice ran hard up against the speed of telegraphs, steam presses, and the penny post. Amidst this arrhythmic pulse of information, rumors circulated, hierarchies of epistemology and authority were unsettled and polar exploration was invested with new meaning as a philanthropic, and essentially British, enterprise.

About the Presenter
Annaliese Jacobs received her PhD in History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2015. Her dissertation examined how the women of Sir John Franklin’s family were entangled in webs of imperial knowledge between 1818 and 1859. Annaliese’s research is multidisciplinary, drawing on histories of science, geography, women and gender, indigenous peoples and maritime industries. She has a particular interest in situating the polar and sub-polar regions in global and transnational histories. She has been the recipient of several grants and awards, including fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Social Sciences Research Council, and the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, and has also worked as an historian for the National Park Service in Alaska. Originally from Anchorage, she now lives in Hobart.

Venue: Room 210 Social Science Building, Sandy Bay Campus

ALL WELCOME: For enquiries about the History seminar series please contact Dr Kristyn Harman or Assoc Prof Penny Edmonds

Event Flyer (PDF 234KB)