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Demystifying Desolation: Representing Patagonian Nature, 1745-1956

Chant, Elizabeth Claire; (2021) Demystifying Desolation: Representing Patagonian Nature, 1745-1956. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

Since it was first sighted by Europeans in 1520, Patagonia has often been understood by non-Indigenous observers as a desolate and inhospitable region. The obstacles that the Patagonian climate posed to colonisation, and fearsome tales of giants, cannibals and monstrous inhabitants helped to cement this notion in early modern Europe. This thesis examines how desolate visions of Patagonian nature have coexisted with images of abundance and promise that understood Patagonia as a habitable and profitable locale. Beginning with an analysis of the growing imperial interest in Patagonia during the late eighteenth century due to its geostrategic location at the confluence of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, I analyse ways of knowing and representing Patagonia across Indigenous, national and imperial contexts. Integrating maps, literature, voyage accounts, visual culture, and periodicals, I address the role of western aesthetics and scientific racism in the early negative perceptions of Patagonia. I further illuminate how changing tastes for rugged landscapes fed European and U.S. tourists’ interest in the region, while also charting the Argentinean and Chilean efforts to integrate Patagonia into the national imaginary after independence. In its critique of the hegemonic telluric vision of Patagonia, this project forges a transandean approach in order to highlight the idiosyncrasies of Argentina and Chile’s tense relationships with the region as part of their ‘modernising’ endeavours. Engaging with anthropological research on perspectivism, and drawing on methodologies from critical theory, map history, visual culture studies, and environmental history, I show how discourses of Patagonian desolation have been perpetuated and debunked across cultural contexts. This thesis therefore contributes new ways of understanding the commodification of Patagonia that has led to its appraisal as a nature tourism hub and industrial heartland in modernity, a process I show has had the tension between desolation and abundance at its core.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Demystifying Desolation: Representing Patagonian Nature, 1745-1956
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request. - Some third party copyright material has been removed from this e-thesis.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10130194
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