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Peder Roberts – new docent at the Division

On Tuesday October 17 Peder Roberts held his docent lecture on the subject of “Polarforskningnens värde och berättigande: då och nu” (“The value of polar research: then and now”). Peder took the title from a 1932 article by the Swedish geographer Hans Ahlmann, in which Ahlmann defended polar research as a worthwhile endeavour characterised by commitment to scientific excellence and differentiated it from an earlier tradition of heroic, risky exploration.

How much has changed in the present? Peder’s answer was quite a lot — particularly in matters such as treating indigenous Arctic residents as collaborators rather than research subjects — but at the same time not as much as we might think, given that polar exploration continues to be a valued marker of a nation’s level of civilisation. Sabine Höhler presented Peder with his docent certificate at which point the audience moved back to the division for some excellent fika. In a fitting tribute to the diets of great polar explorers of the past, one cake featured dogs, though fortunately not in the manner of certain expeditions of days gone by.

"I am a historian with a particular interest in the science, politics, and the polar regions during the twentieth century. My research initially focused on science, whaling, and Antarctic politics in Norway, Sweden, and Britain, an area in which I still work. More recently I have investigated the history of science and environmental and natural resource regulation in Svalbard, Greenland, and northern Sweden."
Peder Roberts,