The Dundee Arctic trade, 1858-1922 : people, connections and spaces on the peripheries

  • Mathew Warren Ylitalo

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


Existing whaling historiography frames the end of the traditional whaling era in the Arctic along established interpretational and methodological paradigms. These perspectives consider the industry almost entirely within the context of ships, men, whales and the sea. This thesis shifts its attention to the industry’s historical peripheries to examine the people, connections and spaces which existed within Dundee’s widening scope of Arctic commercial activities from 1858 to 1922. As bowhead whale populations diminished, the trade began to diversify its financial base of support, explore additional natural resource to exploit on an industrial scale, and change the dynamics of its labour requirements. Going beyond the men on whaling ships, the thesis seeks to identify what other people and activities defined this enterprise. Research therefore introduces the term ‘Arctic trade’ to comprehend its investigation into this transitive era more fully. The thesis adopts a transnational/global history approach, enabling it to shift from a national perspective to a changing mix of local, regional and transoceanic historical scales. This makes it possible for research to recognise the various social and spatial boundaries within the Arctic trade and study where they can be found. Research also considers the ways in which the industry became a variable social anchor within the transmaritime communities it engaged.
Date of Award15 Jun 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorBernhard Struck (Supervisor) & Sarah Easterby-Smith (Supervisor)


  • Arctic trade
  • Whaling
  • Nineteenth century
  • Social anchor
  • Maritime
  • Finance
  • Management
  • Casual labour
  • Women
  • Inuit
  • Middle class
  • Scotland
  • Dundee

Access Status

  • Full text open

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