University of Erfurt

Dr. Stephen Walsh †

Curriculum Vitae

BA (Bachelor of Arts) in Medieval Studies, Bard College (New York)

MA (Master of Arts) in Central & Eastern European History, The Jagiellonian University (Krakow)

2007 – 2009
MA (Master of Arts) in History, Harvard University

2010 – 2011
Research period based in Vienna, St. Petersburg & Trieste (Fellowship from the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies)

January – May 2012
Head Teaching Fellow, History Department, Harvard University

2012 – 2013
Departmental Teaching Fellow, Harvard University

2009 – 2014
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in History, Harvard University. Dissertation: “Between the Arctic & the Adriatic: Polar Exploration, Science & Empire in the Habsburg Monarchy.” (Advisor: Prof. Alison Frank Johnson)

June 2014 – August 2014
Herzog-Ernst Research Fellow, Gotha Research Center of the University of Erfurt

September 2014 – August 2015
Visiting Fellow, Department of History & Civilization, European University Institute (Florence)

September – December 2015
Smithsonian Postdoctoral Fellow, Smithsonian Institution, National Air & Space Museum (Washington DC)

Since January 2016
Christoph-Martin-Wieland Postdoctoral Fellow, Gotha Research Center of the University of Erfurt


Empires of Ice: Geography, Science & Sovereignty in the Polar Regions, 1818-1933

Dr. Walsh’s research project examines the perception and construction of allegedly “empty” geographic space in the extreme latitudes of the world during the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries. In the Enlightenment, geographic exploration was overwhelmingly utilitarian, and the frozen extreme latitudes of the world, spaces possessing few native populations, significant markets to exploit, and natural resources to either appreciate or extract (at least as far as the technology of the time could appreciate), seemed to offer little interest to would-be explorers. Yet by the end of the nineteenth century, the polar regions had become zones of intense imperial contention, with men (and men they usually were) racing to plant imperial flags in the most distant and inhospitable of territories. Neither markets, populations, nor vast natural resources had sprung up in the meantime. What had happened? In seeking to chart this transition, this research interrogates imperialism at its most naked fringes, in examining the relationship between geography, power and the environment.

Ausgewählte Publikationen

“Void into Meaning: Geophysics & Imperial Cartography in the High Arctic,” in Holt Meyer, Susanna Rau & Katharina Waldner, eds., SpatioTemporality: Practices – Concepts – Media (De Gruyter, 2016): 394-412.

“Liberalism at High Latitudes: The Politics of Polar Exploration in the Habsburg Monarchy,” Austrian History Yearbook 47 (2016): 89-106.

“On Slippery Ice: Discovery, Imperium & the Austro-Hungarian North Polar Expedition (1872-1874) in Martin Thomas, ed., Expedition into Empire: Exploratory Journeys & the Making of the Modern World (Routledge, 2015).



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