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Peter R. Martin, MA, MRes, DPhil

Peter R. Martin, MA, MRes, DPhil

Postdoctoral Research Associate, ERC Arctic Cultures Project

Historical geographer interested in critical histories of Arctic exploration, histories of science, postcolonial studies and intellectual history.

Biography

Career

  • 2019 – present: Postdoctoral Research Associate, ERC Arctic Cultures Project (PI: Dr Richard C. Powell)

Qualifications

  • 2019: DPhil in Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford (Mansfield College)
  • 2015: MRes in Human Geography, University of Glasgow
  • 2014: MA in Geography, University of Glasgow

Awards and scholarships

  • Collaborative Doctoral Award 2015-2018, Arts & Humanities Research Council
  • B.B. Roberts Fund for Polar Research Recipient, Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge
  • Graduate Travel Fund Recipient, Mansfield College, University of Oxford
  • Travel Fund Recipient, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford
  • Caird Fund Recipient, Mansfield College, University of Oxford

Research

I am a historical geographer interested in critical histories of Arctic exploration. My work is influenced by a number of literatures including exploration studies, histories of science, postcolonial studies and intellectual history. My doctoral research used the archival collections held at the Royal Geographical Society (with Institute of British Geographers) to study the ways in which geographical knowledge about the Arctic regions has historically been produced, circulated and mediated by this hugely influential institution.

The case study I am working on currently as part of the Arctic Cultures project examines 'the search for Ultima Thule' which was an important intellectual debate during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Arctic has historically been constructed as Ultima Thule, drawing on ideas from the earliest European thinkers such as Pytheas of Massilia. Being beyond the known lands, generations of Europeans were inspired to seek and explore the Arctic in search of the hypothesised location known by this name. Through numerous expeditions to locate Ultima Thule, the indigenous peoples of the Arctic became enrolled within stories about the origins of cultures and the adaptability of Arctic livelihoods. Many colonial powers gave these questions a national slant, but the arguments about the 'Origins of the Inuit' also became a central, intellectual issue in late nineteenth-century ethnology and geography. In debates about the goals and purposes of the social sciences in the late nineteenth-century, the Inuit were used as key 'exemplars' in debates about culture-environment relations. Through this, the anthropological, archaeological and literary search for the origins of the Inuit became the governing trope for the disciplinary study of Arctic cultures during the middle decades of the twentieth century.

The case study, and the wider Arctic Cultures project as a whole, therefore seeks to reveal important insights as to how the Arctic has been constructed historically within the geographical imagination. More importantly, it will also highlight the ways in which the indigenous peoples of the Arctic have played an integral yet complicated role in constructing this powerful Arctic imaginary.

Publications

Peer-reviewed publications

  • Martin P.R. (Forthcoming) 'Supposed-to-be-Land: Indigenous Tales of the Beaufort Sea', Journal of Historical Geography [Accepted subject to revisions].

Book reviews

  • Martin, P.R. (2017) 'Imagining the Arctic: Heroism, Spectacle and Polar Exploration, Huw Lewis-Jones. I.B. Tauris, London (2017). 433 pages, £75 hardcover.' Journal of Historical Geography, vol. 59, January 2018, pp. 102-103.
  • Martin, P.R. (2017) 'Lines in the Ice: Exploring the Roof of the World, Philip J. Hatfield. The British Library, London (2016). 224 pages, £25 hardcover,' Journal of Historical Geography, vol. 57, July 2017, p. 111.

Teaching

  • School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford
    • Geographies of Nature, Undergraduate honours school tutorials.
    • Geographical Methods, Undergraduate second year tutorials.
  • Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge
    • Producing Geography, Undergraduate Tripos Part IB
  • Royal Geographical Society (with Institute of British Geographers)
    • Practicing the Archive, Postgraduate practical archival sessions.
  • School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow
    • Geographical Research Methods, Undergraduate second year tutorials.

External activities

  • Committee Member, Historical Geography Research Group, RGS-IBG