Antarctica in the Cold War Ideological Geopolitics (1950s and 1960s)

The dominant spatial representations of the Antarctic during the 1950s were affected by the Cold War discourses. Earlier on, there were clashes between Britain and Argentina over the issue of territorial ownership. By late 1947, Antarctic affairs assumed immense significance in foreign policy considerations of the US, and the impetus for this shift in focus had more to do with the Soviet Union than with events in the southern polar region per se. The US Department of State in mid February 1949 suggested to interested governments (excluding the Soviet Union) that perhaps the best way of effectively dealing with the problem of conflicting claims for the sake of science in the Antarctic was to put in place some form of internationalization.

With the East–West rivalry for power and influence now extending to the south polar region as well, the US proposal to internationalize Antarctica was motivated by the broader goals of the containment strategy: keeping the Soviet Union out of Antarctica and its affairs. It was also about containing Argentine, Chilean, and British rivalry in the Antarctic Peninsula. For its part, the Soviet Union characterized the US initiative as a ''fig leaf to cover the American imperialists' design to seize the whole of the Antarctic'' and proved the Western hopes of excluding the Soviets from the Antarctic negotiations rather na?ve.