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The Geographic South Pole is a place of paradox. It is a point around which the earth quite literally pivots; yet it has a habit of falling off the edge of our maps. An invisible spot on a high, featureless ice plateau, the Pole has no obvious material value, but is nonetheless a much sought-after location. The endpoint of exploration's most famous 'race', between teams led by Robert F. Scott and Roald Amundsen, the Pole has more recently become a favoured destination of 'extreme' tourists. Like the whole of Antarctica, '90° South' does not belong to any nation, but six national claims meet there, and for nearly sixty years the u.s. has occupied the site with a series of scienti?c stations. The Pole is a deeply political place.
In South Pole Elizabeth Leane explores the important challenges that this strange place poses to humanity. What is its lure? How and why should people live there? How can artists respond to its apparent blankness? What can it teach us about our planet and ourselves? Along the way, she considers the absurdities and banalities of human engagement with the Pole.
Ranging chronologically from the ancient Greeks to the present, and featuring spectacular images of the South Pole, The South Pole: Nature and Culture offers a fascinating history of the symbolic heart of the Antarctic.
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Elizabeth Leane is Associate Professor of English at the University of Tasmania. She is the author of Reading Popular Physics (2007) and Antarctica in Fiction (2012), and the co-editor of Considering Animals (2011).
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