The Geopolitics of Britain’s Antarctic Empire 1942–1961 and its Falklands Legacy

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The Falkland Islands had a significant role in the UK’s competition against other major powers for decades before the Falklands War.

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The war is well-trodden history. Less widely known and analysed is the Falkland Islands’ role as the heart of Britain’s Antarctic empire. The islands strategically facilitated the UK’s competition from 1942 against Argentina, Chile, the US and the USSR in a struggle for the Antarctic’s future, in which Britain was prepared to risk international goodwill, economic benefit, and even open conflict. Through the lens of archived British government documents from 1938 to 1961 and those from the British Library archives and the Scott Polar Institute, we learn why this was, as well as getting a different perspective on the Falklands War and the Antarctic Treaty System.


Samuel Jardine is a geopolitics specialist and public historian. He is the Head of Research at London Politica and is mentored under the RUSI Military Sciences Rising Stars project. Sam specialises in the geopolitics, policy, mineral politics, and security of the polar regions, space and ‘Global Britain’. He holds an MA in Modern History from King’s College London and a BA (Hons) in History from the Open University.


Andrew (Andy) Young is the Military Sciences Community Manager at RUSI. Prior to joining RUSI, he was a Royal Navy Training Management Officer specialising in Professional Military Education. Andrew holds an MPhil in International Relations and Politics and a BA in War Studies. He is the most junior officer to have completed the Mountbatten Fellowship. His research interests include the development of amphibious doctrine and British strategic history.

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