Reconsidering Isaac Julien’s film True North (2004) in relation to my book Gender on Ice (1993) at this moment is a political and intellectual challenge, especially given that the recent resurgence of interest in the Arctic is not only about concern over global warming and the desire to protect the Arctic landscape, wildlife, and indigenous peoples from unchecked industrialization but also about territorial expansion and the mining of natural resources. Moreover, this straightforward imperial rivalry for the Arctic resources that were once off-limits recalls earlier struggles for power articulated by our nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century counterparts. Given the complex politics of the Arctic, this seems an opportune moment to examine the relationship between a book that helped initiate the study of the powerful and continuing cultural investment in the legacy of the so-called heroic age of polar exploration and its link to geographic science and empire, then examine how its analysis was reprised and extended by Julien’s 2004 film. Julien’s film takes the critical scholarship of the book in new directions and in the process makes us think differently about Arctic discourses, race, and gender.

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