View a recording of the lecture by Dr Annaliese Jacobs-Claydon – December 2023
Sometime between 1850 and 1860, a Chukchi umialik (a whaling captain), drew a map of the Bering Strait on sealskin. The map was a rich depiction of an animate and changing world, and it included several whaling ships gathered to hunt Aġviq, the bowhead whale. Like the short-tailed shearwater, one of them might have made the long journey from Tasmania.
We are used to thinking of Hobart as an Antarctic gateway, but this talk will turn things around, and examine some of Tasmania’s Arctic histories. How did islanders impact the Arctic regions, and how have this island’s histories have been shaped by Arctic environments, animals, and people?
Following the tracks of migrating animals and the people who pursued them in (roughly) the first half of the nineteenth century, we will look at how Tasmanians were entangled in the shifting politics of dynamic Arctic worlds, and how those threads were woven in turn into the fabric of Tasmanian history. We will also stop with Tasmanians in the places they called home and look at how they used Arctic stories to make sense of their pasts and imagine their futures. Indigenous people and Indigenous networks of trade and information are central to these stories, connecting the Bering and Bass Straits in surprising and important ways. These polar perspectives might help us reckon with the living legacies of Tasmania’s colonial history, a history that includes the changing polar regions that many will never see.
Dr Annaliese Jacobs Claydon was born and brought up on Dena’ina land in Southcentral Alaska. She began her career as a historian and archaeologist with the U.S. National Park Service in two Indigenous-owned Affiliated Areas, the Iñupiat Heritage Center (Utqiagvik) and the Aleutian World War II National Historic Area (Unalaska/Dutch Harbor). She earned her PhD in British and Imperial History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2015, after which she worked for the State Library and Archives Service at Libraries Tasmania as an Archivist until 2022. She is now an Adjunct Researcher in the Department of History and Classics at the University of Tasmania. Her first book, Arctic Circles and Imperial Knowledge: The Franklin Family, Indigenous Intermediaries, and the Politics of Truth will be published by Bloomsbury Academic in early 2024.