Arctic Mirages: Novaya Zemlya as Tierra Del Plata

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Abstract. The article discusses the role of geographical imagination in the development of the Arctic. At the same time, geographical imagination is understood as a form of knowledge (in the definition of M. Foucault). Mental images of unexplored lands in no way were a product of a random fantasy, they were logically derived from the general geographical views of each era of the ordering of the world. The first part of the article regards the analysis of the evolution of such ideas about the Arctic. The second part analyzes the role of geographical imagination in the development of the Arctic on the example (case study) of the silver deposit in Novaya Zemlya. The phenomenon of “silver rush” that swept the Russian North in the second half of the XVII century is considered. The conclusion develops the idea that the legend of Novaya Zemlya silver mines, as many similar narratives, arose as a result of the performative act (in the definition of J. Austin): tales about Novaya Zemlya silver stories started to be perceived as stories (only) about Novaya Zemlya silver. However, the legend of the silver mines positively influenced the development of Novaya Zemlya, because in the searching process the experience of navigation in the Northern latitudes was accumulated, descriptions and maps of Novaya Zemlya islands were compiled, mineralogical samples were collected.

Keywords: Arctic, Novaya Zemlya, geographic imagination, silver.

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