The chapter sets out the book’s central argument for imperial continuity in the environmental history of the Antarctic Peninsula. The chapter introduces the concept of “environmental authority,” which can be defined as “the assertion that the production of useful scientific knowledge about an environment helps to legitimate political control over that environment.” The British imperial strategy of asserting environmental authority was initially opposed by Argentines and Chileans, who argued that geographical proximity, geological continuity, and other forms of connection demonstrated their ownership of the Antarctic Peninsula region. The South American approach is labeled “environmental nationalism.” The contest between imperialism and nationalism can usefully be thought of as part of an environmental history of decolonization. But instead of ending imperial influence in the Antarctic Peninsula region, the 1959 Antarctic Treaty represented a continuation of assertions of environmental authority and created a new form of “frozen empire.”
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