Colonisation is a gendered enterprise, with archives both expressing and constructing the colony ... Read more
Colonisation is a gendered enterprise, with archives both expressing and constructing the colony as masculine domain, populated by explorers, hunters and (male dominated) resource extraction. This paper explores gendered memory cultures in British/North American Arctic exploration during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Using archival material, the paper investigates the intersections of gender, race and class as they shape both tangible and intangible memorization narratives of Josephine Diebitsch-Peary. As the wife of the Arctic explorer Robert Peary she accompanied her husband on expeditions to Greenland, giving birth to a daughter in Northern Greenland in 1893. Using papers and objects donated to the Women’s Archive in Portland, Maine, the paper traces how women are framed alternately as the ‘ideal’ wife and citizen and ‘that woman’, forming part of the many hidden histories of Arctic exploration narratives. Her archives thus allow us not only access to a woman’s perspective on an Arctic expedition, but also illustrate the gendered aspects of memory and colonialism that reach into the archive itself. The paper will demonstrate how an analysis within the context of memory studies enhances our understanding of Arctic histories and cultures by embracing the entangled nature of history and memory.
This paper was presented as part of the panel 'Gendering memories: all the way from heroism to disposession' at the Memory Studies Association Conference, Complutense Universidad, Madrid and will be submitted for peer-review/publication in 'Memory Studies' (Sage Journals).