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Science, Markets, and Power: Adolf Severin Jensen in the debate over Greenland's fisheries development during the early twentieth century
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies. Umeå University, Arctic Research Centre at Umeå University. (Arcum)
2018 (English)In: Environment and History, ISSN 0967-3407, E-ISSN 1752-7023, Vol. 24, no 3, p. 349-375Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

As a fisheries consultant to the colonial administration, Adolf Severin Jensen (1866-1953) followed, and was an active commentator on, all stages of the commercialisation of Greenland's fishing industry - from its early assessment shortly after 1900 to the sector's peak in the 1930s, and the first signs of a changing trend in the 1940s. This paper puts Jensen's perceptions of Greenlandic fisheries in dialogue with the ideas of scientific rationalisation, economic efficiency and colonial power. The accounts of the fisheries scientist offer a glimpse into the complicated interplay of applied science in natural resource exploitation and state interests at the turn of the twentieth century. His research agenda was coined by the goals of fisheries science to connect knowledge production to markets. However, Jensen's findings also merged with Denmark's aim to secure its colonial authority in Greenland and to exert effective power over both resources and people.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
White Horse Press, 2018. Vol. 24, no 3, p. 349-375
Keywords [en]
fisheries, Greenland, colonial history, industrialization, modernization
National Category
History Other Humanities not elsewhere specified
Research subject
History Of Sciences and Ideas
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-142069DOI: 10.3197/096734018X15137949591990ISI: 000438106900004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-142069DiVA, id: diva2:1158359
Note

Originally included in thesis in manuscript form.

Available from: 2017-11-20 Created: 2017-11-20 Last updated: 2018-08-31Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Greenland's future: narratives of natural resource development in the 1900s until the 1960s
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Greenland's future: narratives of natural resource development in the 1900s until the 1960s
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This doctoral thesis identifies and analyzes narratives of Greenland's future that emerged in the context of developing and modernizing the dependency's natural resources industries in the 1900s until the 1960s. After almost two centuries of Danish colonial rule, the turn of the 20th century witnessed a profound change in Greenland's governance. Although contested at first, the notion of cultural progress increasingly linked developing a modern industry to a productive economy under Danish auspices. Ideas of modernity that connected rationalities of the market with political power and science were unparalleled in the colonial discourse on Greenland's future. How were the development of Greenland's natural resource industries and its role in Danish governance debated? Which narratives emerged in this context? As the studies in this compilation thesis suggest, the rationalities of science, markets, and power became entangled in an unprecedented way during these decades, creating new ways to imagine Greenland's future.

The first paper analyzes the application of a private stakeholder group of Copenhagen's financial and economic elite for access to Greenland as a private, for-profit venture to extract and trade with the colony's living resources in 1905. The motif of an Arctic scramble was constructed through the authority of science, still resonating in the debate on rare earth mining today. The second paper identifies the business relationships between the group's members, connecting major Danish financial institutes and private economic interests in the late 19th and early 20th century. The third paper focuses on the commercialization of Greenlandic fisheries in the 1910s until the late 1920s and the fisheries scientist Adolf Severin Jensen (1866-1953). Jensen's work is an example of how applied sciences connected both scientific and political agendas, carried out in a colonial setting. The fourth paper focuses on the narrative analysis of (Danish-language) Greenlandic newspaper coverage of Qullissat between 1942 and 1968. Representations of the coal mine and nearby settlement on Greenland's west coast, which were closed down in 1972, are at the center of this study. While the coal mine was presented as a Danish success to establish an independent energy supply and to introduce modernization measures, it was presented as a Greenlandic failure to adapt to modern demands of economic productivity in the years leading up to its closure. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå Universitet, 2017. p. 70
Keywords
Greenland, modernization, 20th-century history, colonial history, narrative, history of science and ideas
National Category
History of Ideas
Research subject
History Of Sciences and Ideas
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-142073 (URN)978-91-7601-774-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-12-15, Hörsal F, Humanisthuset, Umeå, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-11-24 Created: 2017-11-20 Last updated: 2018-06-09Bibliographically approved

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