I am researching the histories of British women in Arctic field science between 1900 and 1950. Through the lens of comparative historical biography, I have focused my study on four women: Isobel Wylie Hutchison, Ethel Lindgren, Phyllis Wager and Joan Newhouse. The experience of fieldwork in the Arctic, typically an arena of heroic masculine endeavour, is the chief commonality between these women; this shared experience is what compels my research. Their experiences offer interesting contrasting examples, within and beyond disciplinary boundaries, of “legitimate” and amateur science: Hutchison and Lindgren garnered significant recognition for their scientific work, while, by comparison, Wager and Newhouse were considered “amateurs”, went on to live domestic lives and are largely forgotten today. I engage with the field sciences epistemologically to challenge what is considered scientific knowledge, for instance, by placing domesticity and “dwelling in the field” at the heart of the experience of fieldwork, and reframing the Arctic as a field site constituted by both gendered and racialised relationships of varying intimacy. My subjects’ divergent experiences shed light on women’s position in the discipline and its peripheries at the time, and telling their stories can ultimately shape a more nuanced and inclusive history of Arctic field science.
My research is supervised by Professor Richard Powell at the Scott Polar Research Institute, and Professor Paul Smith at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, with input from Charlotte Connelly, Curator of the Polar Museum.
Previously, I obtained an MA with Distinction in Material and Visual Culture at University College London, where my research focused on cultural memory, heritage and the politics of archiving in Lebanon. I have a parallel career as an editorial illustrator and contribute regularly to The New Yorker and The New York Times.