Antarctic Geopolitics and Australian Heritage: Historic Sites and Monuments of the ‘frozen’ continent

Ms Rebecca Hingley1

1UTAS (IMAS), Hobart, Australia


While a few attempts have been made to investigate the relationship between Antarctic geopolitics and Antarctic material heritage, the manipulation of the continent’s official Historic Sites and Monuments (HSMs) by political actors both on as well as off the continent is yet to be examined. However, these places and objects are by no means ‘frozen in time’ as the narrative of Antarctic exceptionalism would suggest. Rather, they are susceptible to the political, social and cultural forces that affect the rest of the globe. In an effort to best exploit the political value these HSMs have to offer, different strategies are adopted depending on whether the audience being addressed is located inter-nationally, intra-nationally, or even extra-nationally.

In order to better grasp state behaviour with regard to the regulation and management of Antarctic historic and cultural material remains, this paper will analyse just one nominating party and its entries on the HSMs list: Australia. Despite laying claim to 42 per cent of the Antarctic continent, Australia has just four independent historic sites or monuments featuring on the list: three rock cairns and Cape Denison. This paper investigates Australia’s geopolitical use and consumption of its HSMs both on and off the ice.


Rebecca is a PhD candidate from the the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) and School of Humanities at the University of Tasmania (UTAS), Hobart, Australia. Her project is investigating the geopolitical significance of Antarctic heritage and she is now in her second year of candidature. Prior to undertaking this project, she completed a Master of International Affairs and Bachelor of Arts at the Australian National University (ANU), Canberra, Australia.


The Institute of Australian Geographers (IAG) is the principal body representing geographers and promoting the study and application of geography in Australia. It was founded in 1958 and since then has promoted, supported and defended Australian geography.

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