Scott Polar Research Institute, Department of Geography
Deborah is a PhD student working with the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, and supervised by Professor Michael Bravo. She completed her undergraduate degree in History and English at Royal Holloway, University of London, before moving to the Scott Polar Research Institute for an MPhil in Polar Studies. Her PhD will explore the emotional histories and experiences of bereaved families of polar explorers, and their influence on the archival and museum collections that modern researchers rely on. By combining the material cultures of collections across the globe with the domestic histories of emotion, she hopes to uncover the hidden domestic histories that have shaped legacies of polar exploration over the last century, and the emotional labour that these families undertook in order to protect and preserve their loved one’s legacy. Through their words, actions, and decisions, these families not only shaped the explorer’s reputation in the immediate aftermath of his death, but also had a profound influence on how he was memorialised – whether in the form of biography, physical sculptures or memorials, or through donations of personal items to institutions so that his work and writing would be preserved alongside others in his field. This project will piece together these narratives of grief, loss, and commitment to bring to light the work that goes into preserving a life history, and shaping legacies for future generations.