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Håkan Jorikson, I skuggan av Andrée och Nordenskiöld. Polarresenären och zoologen Axel Ohlin. En biografi, Stockholm: Carlssons Bokförlag 2015

Författare Aant Elzinga
Publicerad i Journal of Northern Studies
Volym 10
Nummer/häfte 2 (2016)
Sidor 183-187
ISSN 1654-5915
Publiceringsår 2017
Publicerad vid Institutionen för filosofi, lingvistik och vetenskapsteori
Sidor 183-187
Språk en
Länkar www.jns.org.umu.se
Ämnesord Axel Ohlin, Otto Nordenskjöld, Swedish Antarctic Expedition 1901-1903, anti-hero, polar expeditions, Gränna, politics of memory, Grenna Polar Museum
Ämneskategorier Vetenskapsteori, Vetenskapshistoria


The author of this book, Håkan Jorikson, has an educational background in history and ethnology. Presently he is the director of the Museum and Polar Center in Gränna, a position held since the year 2000. In connection with his work at the museum Jorikson has over the years gained many insights into the history of polar exploration and research, based on archival studies, caches of unique photographs and hitherto unstudied correspondence; he has also served as a lecturer and guide during eco-touristic cruises in polar regions. The book under re- view is a biography of the life and work of Axel Ohlin (1867–1903), a largely forgotten figure in polar research and exploration. Ohlin was a marine zoologist who participated in two of Otto Nordenskjöld’s expeditions, namely the Magellan Lands Expedition to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego (1895–1897) and the one to the Antarctic Peninsula (1901–1903). Jorikson has gone through much of Ohlin’s hitherto un-consulted correspondence, his diary and those of other members of Nordenskjöld’s expedition and a wide range of published material relating to Swedish and international polar exploration history. It is a fine piece of detective work that unravels some hitherto hidden aspects that also go beyond Ohlin’s life and work. Retrospectively, history has, however, not been kind to Ohlin. Not only is he mostly forgotten, but when he is remembered it is often as the rather obscure querulous figure, a kind of outsider and loser. On the inside of the book’s dust cover Jorikson characterizes his life as that of the anti-hero, “the opposite image of those, in different ways successful polar profiles and expedition stories.” Indeed much of the literature on polar history is focused on the “he- roes.” Ohlin was essentially a bohemian who refused to fit into the mold of his contemporary academic world. It is heartening to read the present book as an antidote to the celebratory genre. The book’s narrative has a nice flow to it, popular and easy to read but without sacrificing stringency and detail. The work also contains nearly fifty illustrations, images of places, scientists, ships and deck scenes, and a few documents. Most of the illustrations are black-and-white scans of photographs but there are also a couple of photocopies of our anti-hero’s portrait in colour. The list of unpublished sources and archival material together with a sizeable bibliography is useful for anyone who wishes to delve further into topics and aspects dealt with, while an index of person names is handy for both scholars and more casual readers. Overall the book is an important contribution to current scholarship on the history of Swedish polar exploration and re- search. Given the complexity of the chief character, Axel Ohlin, and the turbulence and elements of suspense attending his life the book will also appeal to a wider readership interested in the lure of the Polar Regions.

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