Dr Alister Wedderburn is a Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Glasgow. Prior to this, he was the John Vincent Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Australian National University in Canberra. He holds a PhD in International Relations, an MA in War Studies from King’s College London, and an MA in English Literature from the University of Cambridge.

Alister’s research concerns the cultural production of global political knowledges and imaginaries, asking how visual, literary and popular-cultural fields shape political beliefs, interests and horizons. His work addresses a wide range of empirical sites related to this theme, and has been published in journals including International Studies Quarterly European Journal of International Relations, Review of International Studies, Millennium, and International Feminist Journal of Politics. His first monograph was published in 2021 with Manchester University Press.


While at CRASSH, Alister will be working on a project concerned with the cultures of textual production shaping English and British imperialism. Building on a recent article published in the Cambridge Review of International Affairs, the project interrogates Britain’s preoccupation with the Arctic between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, and in particular with the search for a Northwest Passage. Drawing on expeditionary narratives written by sailors on the many British expeditions to the region, it argues that these texts’ representations of British voyages to the American north not only helped the nation’s imperial energies to coalesce but also guided them, albeit variably, from the early modern period up to and including the high Victorian age of empire.

Alister’s research at CRASSH will orbit around archival work at the Scott Polar Research Institute. In particular, he will focus on the papers, correspondence and published work of Sir John Barrow, Second Secretary to the Admiralty for forty years in the 1800s and a central figure behind the renewed expansion of Arctic exploration in the post-Napoleonic period. Alister will examine Barrow and his contemporaries’ engagement with early modern Arctic expeditionary narratives, asking how they conceived their own imperial project in relation to earlier literary accounts of Arctic voyages.

The research done during Alister’s CRASSH fellowship will inform a journal article on this topic as well as the continued development of a monograph manuscript centring the Arctic as an underappreciated and atypical space at which to trace the advent and formation of British imperial ambition, identity, and practice.


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk