Join Professor Carol Payne for a masterclass in “Arctic Expedition Photography: Critical Perspectives, Inuit Returns”.

Please note that CVC Masterclasses are open to University of Cambridge students only. Registration information is at the bottom of the event listing.

This masterclass will explore the photograph as a site of cultural contact in the Arctic—ranging from visualized colonial authority to assertions of Inuit agency. The session will take place at the Scott Polar Research Institute’s Picture Library, one of the most comprehensive collections of historic photographs depicting Polar Regions. We will view and discuss a selection of Arctic expedition photographs and other graphic works dating from the 1845 to 1931. This will allow us to engage with photographs in material terms (Edwards 2022).

Our viewing of works from the Picture Library will be illuminated through a wide-ranging body of literature. This reading list includes historical discussions of Arctic exploration, theoretical analyses of the remediation of historical photographs (particularly by Indigenous peoples) as well as the materiality of the photograph. It also includes work by contemporary Inuit artists Asinnajaq and Robert Kautuk, and a discussion of the late Inuk artist Pia Arke’s response to exploration photographs of Greenland.

Reading List

Academic Literature:
– Bravo, Michael. 2019. North Pole: Nature and Culture. London, Reaktion Books. Chapter 4 “Polar Voyaging,” 104-36.
– Edwards, Elizabeth. 2022. Photographs and the Practice of History: A Short Primer. London: Bloomsbury. Chapter 7 “Materiality,” 97-110.
– Lydon, Jane. 2010. “Return: The Photographic Archive and Technologies of Indigenous Memory.” Photographies. 3, 2 (September): 173-187.
– Kaalund, Nanna Katrine Lüders. 2023. “ ‘The Admiralty has been keeping its pictures’: Photography and the British Arctic Expedition, 1875-76,” Early Popular Visual Culture. 21:3, 303-30.
– Payne, Carol. 2022. “Inuit, the Crown, and Racialized Visuality: Photographs from the 1956 Canadian Governor General’s Arctic Tour, Photography and Culture,” Photography & Culture.

Contemporary Inuit Artists Respond to Inuit Nunangat (Inuit Homelands):
– Asinnajaq, 2017. Three Thousand. (animated film, 14 min.) National Film Board of Canada.
– Hansen, Stine Lundberg, “Behind the Art—Pia Arke”. Translation: Lorenzo Imola. Nuuk Art Museum.
– Robert Kautuk. Artist profile from the Inuit Art Foundation.


This event is part of the CVC Masterclass series. It is open to University of Cambridge postgraduate students only.

To register for this class, please send an email to with a short statement on the benefits of participation in this masterclass to your studies.