IMHICIHU   13380
Unidad Ejecutora - UE
congresos y reuniones científicas
Sound and Silence in Antarctica. A historic database on sealing and whaling expeditions to South Shetlands Islands from 1840-1890
Workshop; Scar History Workshop Antarctic History: probing the unknown; 2011
Institución organizadora:
Scientific Committee for Antarctic research
The aim of this paper is to present the research done on archival records in order to understand the magnitude of the presence of whaling and sealing expeditions bound to the South Shetland Islands during the 19th century. Master Narratives about the Antarctic past seem to have been built over a dichotomic basis: on the one hand invigorating and praising all the stories related to exploration whereas on the other darkening or leaving aside the stories related to the exploitation of natural resources. These Master Narratives of Antarctica highlight events, proper names and precise dates and tend to consider isolated facts, oblivious of the process in which these events were framed. The result is a fragmented history with lights and shades, shaped as a series of events occurring before or after a 50-year period of silence from 1840 to 1890. These well- known and widely spread versions of the history of Antarctica ignore other stories: those lived by anonymous sealers and whalers who during the whole of the 19th century produced no specific events on precise dates but were permanently present in Antarctica. In order to contribute to the rethinking of the history told by the Master Narratives, a systematic research of New England archival records was carried out. The efforts were directed to studying what happened during the 50 years of silence, focusing on what had been left aside. Historic evidence about sealers and whalers is scattered, fragmentary and diverse thus this research aimed at putting together the pieces of this great puzzle by studying unpublished documents in historic archives as well as using previously published data. As a result an up-to-date database on sealing and whaling expeditions to South Shetlands Islands during the period from 1840-1890 was built. The information in this database is complementary to the one provided by previous archaeological studies which have allowed us to understand that the arrival of sealers and whalers was not a series of isolated events but part of a global process.