CSS colloquium: Christian Kehrt, University of Braunschweig

Gondwana’s promises. German scientists in Antarctica between basic science and resource exploration in the 1970s

2018.01.17 | Randi Mosegaard

Date Wed 06 Jun
Time 14:15 15:45
Location Aud D3 (1531-215)

This talk will focus on resource oriented polar research in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I will argue that this is a crucial period of transition in polar science, when Antarctica, as the “continent defined by and for science” (Elzinga) was intrinsically linked with economic interests and global environmental concerns. While initially questions of resource exploration and protection were not on the agenda of the IGY, nor part of the Antarctic Treaty System, these issues were intensively discussed in the 1970s. At that time, the “limits to growth” and the so called “oil shock” were motivating new strategies for resource exploration. Countries like Germany (1979) with only small natural reserves and soon later India and China (1983), increased their engagement in polar science. I will ask what political interests were linked with Antarctic research and closely look at the different actors related to environmental protection and resource exploration in Antarctica.

Christian Kehrt is professor of history of science and technology at the Technical University Braunschweig, Germany. He studied history and philosophy at the universities of Tübingen and Stony Brook, NY.  His research interests lie in the cultural history of science, technology and the environment, encompassing the history of aviation, the polar regions and nanotechnology.


Coffee/tea and cake/fruit will be served at 14:00.

Lecture / talk