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Title:Arctic Circles: the Franklin family, networks of knowledge, and early nineteenth century Arctic exploration, 1818-1859
Author(s):Jacobs, Annaliese
Director of Research:Burton, Antoinette M.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Burton, Antoinette M.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Liebersohn, Harry; Rabin, Dana; Randolph, John W.; Ballantyne, Tony J.; Perry, Adele
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Arctic regions
Indigenous Peoples
British Empire
Franklin, John
Franklin, Jane
Abstract:This dissertation examines how the women of the family of the Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin (1786-1847) engaged with imperial and geographical networks of knowledge from 1818 to 1859. It argues that over this forty year period, the Franklin women (and especially John Franklin’s second wife, Jane Franklin, and his niece, Sophia Cracroft) drew on their roles as wives, daughters, sisters and nieces to lay claim to their moral authority to receive, evaluate, interpret and circulate intelligence from the field, to act upon it, or to compel others to do so. They built this authority up haphazardly over time and space as they “careered” along with John Franklin from circles of polite science in London in the 1820s, to the penal colony of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) where he was the lieutenant governor from 1837 to 1843, to Britain in the 1840s and 1850s where they organized expeditions to go in search of Franklin after he disappeared in an attempt to chart the Northwest Passage in 1845. At each stage, the Franklin women actively engaged with (and derived connections, strategies and information from) dynamic networks of imperial knowledge across a series of colonial, metropolitan and extra-imperial sites. These included, but were not limited to, the changing circuits of scientific sociability, and trans-imperial networks of imperial humanitarianism, settlers, colonial governance and science. In the webs of imperial knowledge in which they were entangled and which they wove, the Franklin women’s authority was always gendered, precarious, and questioned, and this dissertation argues that they consistently shored it up by seeking to silence, calibrate, or otherwise reshape the characters and credibility of indigenous people from Inuit interpreters to Tasmanian orphans. In doing so, they consistently engaged with indigenous networks of knowledge, exchange, and resistance that were formed both within and outside imperial terrain from the Arctic to Van Diemen’s Land. The Franklin women also tried to either co-opt or to subvert the vernacular agents of imperial industry, commerce and expansion – whalers, fur traders, and settlers – who acted as intermediaries with indigenous people, and with whom the Franklin women both made and discarded alliances as it suited them.
Issue Date:2015-04-20
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Annaliese Jacobs
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-07-22
Date Deposited:May 2015

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