‘Cleaning up the ‘scraps’: Dundee’s late nineteenth-century industrial transition from hunting bowheads to developing a wider Arctic trade’
‘Cleaning up the ‘scraps’: Dundee’s late nineteenth-century industrial transition from hunting bowheads to developing a wider Arctic trade’Dr Matthew YlitaloSchool of History, University of St Andrews
By the 1880s, Dundee’s maritime industries clearly recognised that hunting ‘Greenland right’ whale was in its final commercial era. Labelling this a period of decline and failure, modern scholars and general narratives have preferred to focus on the rise and ‘golden eras’ of traditional Arctic whaling and contemporary efforts to quantify and project the total number of bowheads harvested using diaries and ships’ logbooks. Instead of considering the ‘failure’ of bowhead hunting, this presentation investigates Dundee’s industrial transition to a wider form of maritime and Arctic resource extraction between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In particular, the talk highlights the evolving commercial practices to find, extract and monetize Arctic ‘produce’. It also shares research-in-progress that considers other factors for quantifying historical harvests of Arctic and marine fauna other than the bowhead.