Karen Routledge F'09
Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2009
Rutgers University, New Brunswick
In These Latitudes: American and Inuit Stories of Survival, 1850-1915
This dissertation recovers alternative ways of thinking about individual and cultural survival by comparing the experiences of American enlisted men, American whalers, and Inuit families, all of whom ventured far from home to places where they faced hardships such as starvation, malnutrition, and disease. Based on oral history interviews and archival sources in the United States and Canada, this environmental and cultural history compares the strategies Americans and Inuit employed to survive physically and psychologically in a variety of unfamiliar places. It argues that the definition of a harsh environment is relative, and that American failures to adapt to northern sites shaped consequential misconceptions of the Arctic as an inherently desolate and inhospitable place.