Guy’s masters thesis is on “The Influence of Place: A Case Study of Antarctic Scientists” Hear his Radio NZ interview here! Podcast 9′ :41″
Research into place identity and attachment is commonly linked to the formative influence of places from our childhood, but what about the places we interact with in our professional adult lives? This thesis investigates the effect of place on scientists at work in the field. Specifically it presents a case study exploring the relationship between Antarctic researchers and Antarctica as a place. It examines the influence of Antarctica on the identity of scientists working there, and queries the unique characteristics of Antarctica as a place that influences who these individuals are, how they work, and the nature of their science. Analysing the contents of letters written to Antarctica by its researchers, as well as follow-up interviews, the outcomes of this research resolved three overarching themes including community, connectivity, and clarity. The themes collectively embody the characteristics of Antarctica as an influential place and their alliterative aesthetic also serves wider communication objectives. The creative component of this thesis involves the creation of a ‘Field Guide to Antarctica’ that presents these themes through the experiences of five scientists, and includes a practical checklist for future visiting researchers to the continent. Whereas the objectivity of science has traditionally been supported by distancing the discipline from the effects of people and place on process, this thesis supports recognition of the ‘who and where’ of science. Not only can their recognition add credibility and authenticity to the output and communication of science, but can be considered an essential focus in understanding people’s relationship with place in an increasingly globalised and changing world.