Matt Ylitalo

BSc, The University of Oklahoma; BA, University of Tennessee – Knoxville; MLitt, University of St Andrews

Contact Details


Thesis title: Transmaritime Spaces of Opportunity:  Nineteenth-Century Dundee and the Arctic Whaling Trade
Supervisor: Drs. Bernhard Struck and Sarah Easterby-Smith (St Andrews) and Professor Jim Livesey (Dundee)


Research Interests:

My research interests revolve around exploring transnational and spatial themes in history, framing narratives within multi-scalar (local-global) contexts, and using visualised data as a means for directing further research.  Particular interests extending from this include history of science and processes of making/exchanging knowledge; maritime and polar environments; Scotland & the wider world; and anything involving Dundee!

My thesis examines Dundee and the social, economic and epistemic ramifications of its Arctic whaling trade during the nineteenth century.  Although whaling never dominated the business landscape in Dundee (flax and jute manufacturing filled that role), by the late nineteenth century, Dundee had become Europe’s leading whaling port. The extraordinary demands and vicissitudes of this trade effectively created highly transitory and open-ended ‘spaces of opportunity’ where local and global participants from different walks of life engaged and exchanged all manners of goods, services and ideas.  These spaces of opportunity not only helped to define nineteenth-century Dundee, but they also positioned the city as a leader in capital entrepreneurialism for a time.  This type of analysis complicates the traditional narratives because it crosses gendered, geographical and scalar boundaries in a way not previously considered.