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Title: "The sailors dearly love to make up" : cross-dressing and blackface during polar exploration
Author: Mossakowski, Tomasz Filip
ISNI:       0000 0004 5368 3941
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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This research project writes against the hegemonic narratives of polar exploration in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Using the published and unpublished diaries of explorers from 1819 to 1904, it asks how queer, critical race and postcolonial critiques of the hyper-masculine, all-white image of the polar explorer can open up new understandings of polar spaces both in the nineteenth century and today, when similar nationalistic, colonial enterprises are at play. Primarily informed by Lisa Bloom’s feminist, postcolonial review of American ideologies of polar exploration, this project discusses the large disparity between the intensely masculine image of the polar hero-adventurer and the particularly Anglo-American, but also Norwegian, tendency to perform drag during polar expeditions. It also examines the high incidence of blackface theatre: in one of the whitest spaces conceivable, sailors donned the black mask to air a complex constellation of white, colonial and class grievances and aspirations. Polar performance, which evolved to have its own idiosyncrasies shaped by the natural and social polar environment, affected colonial relations with Inuit, the stuff of farce being pressed into the service of imperial force. Indigenous populations witnessed grotesque displays of Anglo-American gendered and racial values through theatrical recreation, while simultaneously resisting the encroachment of expedition society through similar but seemingly smaller avenues of performative resistance. Broadly speaking, this project offers this more radical, revisionist interpretation at a time when interest in the Arctic and Antarctic is soaring due to anthropogenic climate change. It challenges the current reappropriation of heroic, hyper-masculine figures by national andprivate interests through celebrating their lesser-known but equally fascinating mid-winter activities.
Supervisor: Howard, John De Velling ; Turner, Mark Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available