The role of cultural heritage in the geopolitics of the Arctic: the example of Franklin’s lost expedition
Sir John Franklin’s ships departed from Greenhithe port in Great Britain (1845) with the aim of discovering the Northwest Passage in what is now Canada. During their journey, both ships got stuck in ice near King William Island and eventually sank. Over time, searches were held in order to find both wrecks. More recently, under the Conservative Government of Stephen Harper (2006–2015) there was renewed interest regarding what is now referred to as Franklin’s lost expedition. Searches resumed and narratives were formed regarding the importance of this expedition for Canadian identity. This article is embedded in a sociocultural perspective and will examine the role that cultural heritage can play in the geopolitics of the Arctic while highlighting the process of ‘patrimonialization’ that the Franklin’s lost expedition has undergone during Harper’s term in office. Based on discourse analysis, it brings out the main narratives that surrounded the modern searches of Franklin’s wrecks which are related to history, national historic sites, mystery, diversity, importance of Inuit knowledge and information gathering. This article demonstrates that these narratives were intended to form a new Canadian northern identity and to assert Canada’s sovereignty over the Arctic.
Copyright (c) 2021 Kim Pawliw, Étienne Berthold, Frédéric Lasserre
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.