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John Woitkowitz, MA, MA, PhD

John Woitkowitz, MA, MA, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Associate, ERC Arctic Cultures

Dr. Woitkowitz studies European and North American history with a specialization in the Northern and Arctic regions. His research engages with global and transnational history approaches. Specific areas of research include the history of science, maritime history, cultural history, and diplomatic history.

Dr. Woitkowitz is a member of the Modern European History Research Seminar and co-convener of the Polar Humanities and Social Sciences Workshop.



  • October 2018 – present: Postdoctoral Research Associate, ERC Arctic Cultures (PI: Dr. Richard C. Powell)


  • 2018: PhD, International History, University of Calgary, Canada
  • 2011: Magister Artium, North American Studies, Modern History, and Latin American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
  • 2009: MA, Diplomatic History, Ohio State University, United States

Scholarships and awards

Fellowships and associateships

  • Herzog Ernst Fellowship, Gotha Research Centre, University of Erfurt, 2020
  • Postdoctoral Associate, Jesus College, University of Cambridge, UK, 2018-2021

Selected awards

  • Eyes High International Doctoral Scholarship, University of Calgary, Canada, 2017
  • Doctoral Fellowship, German Historical Institute, Washington D.C., United States, 2015
  • Faculty of Graduate Studies Doctoral Scholarship, University of Calgary, Canada, 2014
  • Eyes High Leadership Doctoral Scholarship, University of Calgary, Canada, 2013
  • Emerging Scholar Award, Association for Canadian Studies in German-speaking Countries, Germany, 2010
  • Direct Exchange Fellowship, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, 2008


Dr. Woitkowitz's book project examines the cultural history of Canadian and American foreign and defense relations in the Arctic from 1937-1957. This study bridges disciplinary boundaries between diplomatic history, cultural studies, and the methodological contributions by theories of nationalism, cultural representation, and symbolic interaction. By investigating international talks over the establishment of security installations, field exercises, and scientific progams, this project sheds new light on the salience of the Arctic as a powerful cultural space for Canadian and American diplomats, the way they made sense of the Arctic and its peoples, and the impact of non-state actors and cultural formations on the practice of diplomacy and international relations.

As part of the project ERC Arctic Cultures: Sites of Collection in the Formation of the European and American Northlands, Dr. Woitkowitz examines the history of theories of an open polar sea and the ideas of a mythical land across the central Arctic Ocean. Conceived as a global history of Arctic knowledge production, this study investigates the re-ordering of nature-centric scientific formations of the central Arctic region across European and North American lieux de savoir, including Greenland, Germany, England, and the United States. Focusing on the transnational circulation of these formations, Dr. Woitkowitz examines the impact of nineteenth-century re-conceptualizations of explorative geography and a re-ordering of spatial knowledges on the transatlantic curation of the Arctic Ocean as a place of natural scientific inquiry.



  • Woitkowitz, John, "Taking the Long View: Arctic Relations and the Historical Imperative,", February 6, 2019.
  • Woitkowitz, John, "Die Arktis trotzt dem Konfliktmythos,", January 28, 2018.
  • Woitkowitz, John, "The Northern Education of Lester B. Pearson," Zeitschrift für Kanada-Studien, Vol. 37, no. 1 (2017): 77-98.
  • Woitkowitz, John, "Imagining Northern and Arctic Canada and Canadian Diplomacy in the Early Cold War," 197-211, in Dr. Luigi Bruti-Liberati (Ed.), Interpreting Canada: New Perspectives from Europe (Brno: European Network for Canadian Studies, 2012).

Book reviews

  • Review author of Gordon W. Smith, A Historical and Legal Study of Sovereignty in the Canadian North: Terrestrial Sovereignty, 1870-1939, ed. P. Whitney Lackenbauer (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2014), in Zeitschrift für KanadaStudien 36, no. 1 (2016): 178-80.
  • Review author of P. Whitney Lackenbauer, The Canadian Rangers. A Living History (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2013), in British Journal for Canadian Studies 27, no 1 (2014): 111-12.
  • Review author of Shelagh D. Grant, Polar Imperative: A History of Arctic Sovereignty in North America (Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2010), in Zeitschrift für Kanada-Studien 31, no. 1 (2011): 133-34.


  • 2019: Contributing Lecturer, "Cartographies of Colonialism," MPhil in Polar Studies, Module 2: Northern Peoples: Cultures, Colonialisms, and Futures, Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, UK
  • 2015: Sessional Instructor, "The Age of Totalitarianism," University of Calgary, Canada
  • 2012: Teaching Assistant, "The Contemporary World," University of Calgary, Canada
  • 2011: Teaching Assistant, "The Contemporary World," University of Calgary, Canada

External activities

  • Council Member, Association for Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS)
  • Member, German Association of Historians (VDH)
  • Member, American Historical Association (AHA)
  • Member, German Association for American Studies (DGfA)
  • Member, German Studies Association (GSA)
  • Member, Canadian Historical Association (CHA)