Historical Social Research

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Christian Kehrt: Gondwana’s Promises. German Geologists in Antarctica between Basic Science and Resource Exploration in the Late 1970s [Abstract]

The 1970s was a crucial period of transition in polar science, when Antarctica, as the “continent defined by and for science” (Elzinga 1993), was intrinsically linked with economic interests and global environmental concerns. This shift towards a resource-oriented research agenda will be examined in the case of the Federal Republic of Germany and its GANOVEX (German Antarctic North Victoria Land Expedition) Expeditions. They started in 1979 and aimed to erase the last blank spots on the geological map of Antarctica and thus prove that Germany can attain consultative status in the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS). In this context, scientists played a key role in negotiating the possibilities and limits of resource exploration in the late 1970s. I will discuss the so-called “Gondwana hypothesis” and its role in resource-driven research and argue that global geopolitical interests in new resource potentials motivated the geological mapping of Antarctica.

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