Historically Contingent Analysis of the Significance of Antarctica
Starting from the Ancient Greeks, this episode of TIMESHIFT looks at the enduring significance of Antarctica as a territory for exploration, colonization and scientific research. There are some familiar tales here, notably those of Ernest Shackleton, Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen; but this documentary brings the story up to date with a look at contemporary explorers, who are less interested in colonizing the territory and more concerned with scientific research, or even self- promotion. An interesting segment of the program concentrates on how the territory formed the site for a unique partnership during the Cold War: perhaps uniquely in the world, the Americans and Soviets signed a non-aggression pact for those working in Antarctica, and oddly enough, the pact survived. Now Antarctica is perceived as a place of infinite possibility as well as conservation, embodying our contemporary concerns with ecology and broadening the field of scientific research. As with many geographical locations, Antarctica is less significant for what it is than what it represents for different socio-economic interests over time. Well-told, with a sympathetic narration by Robert Gwilym, this documentary packs a lot into its one-hour running time.
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