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Ice and Snow in the Cold War: Histories of Extreme Climatic Environments

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Volume 14

Environment in History: International Perspectives

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Ice and Snow in the Cold War

Histories of Extreme Climatic Environments

Edited by Julia Herzberg, Christian Kehrt, and Franziska Torma

330 pages, 20 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-986-8 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (October 2018)

eISBN 978-1-78533-987-5 eBook

Hb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $34.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“The advantage of the volume is that it transcends the geographical boundaries of the circumpolar areas, which are often associated with cold and extreme. As can be seen from the description, apart from Antarctica, Greenland and the Soviet Arctic, the geography of the collection covers the European Alps and mountain systems of Central Asia. The extended geographic focus allows to see the links between polar and non-polar regions in the history of science and technology and, therefore, to ‘detach’ extreme cold environment from the poles.” • Karaseva

“A strong feature of this collection is its detailed research, which serves as the basis for the narratives: several chapters use a microhistorical (as well as a microgeographical) approach and tell us about largely unknown places… Hopefully, this innovative book will invigorate other researchers, including those who study Russian and east European history to further develop a genre of “cryo-history”that is so relevant in today’s world of accelerated Arctic melting.” • Slavic Review

“The focus of this very well written volumes, which in parts reads like single-authored, is in most contributions on the systemic competition, be it in the military, winter sports, technology or especially in research.” • H-Soz-Kult

“Collectively, the geographically diverse case studies in Ice and Snow in the Cold War address a topic that is important but relatively understudied. The book moves both environmental history and Cold War studies in intriguing new directions.” • Matthew Farish, University of Toronto


The history of the Cold War has focused overwhelmingly on statecraft and military power, an approach that has naturally placed Moscow and Washington center stage. Meanwhile, regions such as Alaska, the polar landscapes, and the cold areas of the Soviet periphery have received little attention. However, such environments were of no small importance during the Cold War: in addition to their symbolic significance, they also had direct implications for everything from military strategy to natural resource management. Through histories of these extremely cold environments, this volume makes a novel intervention in Cold War historiography, one whose global and transnational approach undermines the simple opposition of “East” and “West.”

Julia Herzberg Professor for the History of East Central Europe and Russia in Early Modern Times at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich. She is currently working on an environmental history of “frost” in Russia that scrutinizes various social and cultural aspects of Russia’s harsh climate. Over the last few years she has done research on the environmental history of Central Eastern Europe and Russia. Her publications include the collection Umweltgeschichte(n): Ostmitteleuropa von der Industrialisierung bis zum Postsozialismus (2013), coedited with Martin Zückert und Horst Förster.

Christian Kehrt is professor of history of science and technology at the Technical University Braunschweig, Germany. His research interests lie in the cultural history of science, technology and the environment.

Franziska Torma works on the history of marine biology at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, Munich (project funded by the German Research Foundation, DFG). Her research interests include the history of science and the cultural and environmental history of the nineteenth and twentieth century.

Subject: History: 20th Century to Present Environmental Studies (General)


List of Illustrations


Exploring Ice and Snow in the Cold War
Julia Herzberg, Christian Kehrt, and Franziska Torma

Cryo-history: Ice, Snow, and the Great Acceleration
Sverker Sörlin


Chapter 1. Snow and Avalanche Research as Patriotic Duty? The Institutionalization of a Scientific Discipline in Switzerland
Dania Achermann

Chapter 2. “An Orgy of Hypothesizing”: The Construction of Glaciological Knowledge in Cold War America
Janet Martin-Nielsen

Chapter 3. “Camp Century” and “Project Iceworm”: Greenland as a Stage for US Military Service Rivalries
Ingo Heidbrink

Chapter 4. Inuit Responses to Arctic Militarization: Examples from East Greenland
Sophie Elixhauser


Chapter 5. Creating Open Territorial Rights in Cold and Icy Places: Cold War Rivalries and the Antarctic and Outer Space Treaties
Roger D. Launius

Chapter 6. An Environment Too Extreme? The Case of Bouvetøya
Peder Roberts and Lize-Marié van der Watt

Chapter 7. Managing the “White Death” in Cold War Soviet Union: Snow Avalanches, Ice Science, and Winter Sports in Kazakhstan, 1960s–1980s
Marc Elie


Chapter 8. Laboratory Metaphors in Antarctic History: From Nature to Space
Sebastian Vincent Grevsmühl

Chapter 9. Cold War Creatures: Soviet Science and the Problem of the Abominable Snowman
Carolin F. Roeder and Gregory Afinogenov

Chapter 10. Negotiating “Coldness”: The Natural Environment and Community Cohesion in Cold War Molotovsk-Severodvinsk
Ekaterina Emeliantseva Koller

Chapter 11. An Exploration of the Self: Reinhold Messner’s Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1989
Pascal Schillings

Conclusion: Histories of Extreme Environments beyond the Cold War
Julia Herzberg, Christian Kehrt, and Franziska Torma


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