Arcitc Yearbook 2012
The Arctic is rapidly shedding its post-Cold War status as a geopolitical hinterland to occupy a space
near the forefront of state agendas, manifesting in an imbalance between despotic and infrastructural
power that has yet to be fully resolved. Likewise, the full potential of collaborative infrastructures in
the Arctic has yet to be realized. As states work together to advance northern development,
infrastructural power will commensurately rise, building on existing manifestations of infrastructural
power such as the North American land claims agreements. These developments will lead to
sovereignty being exercised increasingly locally through daily activities rather than as directives from
faraway elites. Paradoxically, we may also see a further increase in military presence in absolute
terms, as states respond to the defense demands of larger populations, infrastructural investments,
and increasingly scarce resources. Regardless, military clashes are not likely to figure in the outcome
of a Northern ‘Great Game,’ as the geography of Arctic resources and infrastructure presents critical
opportunities for international cooperation. Collaborative infrastructures will lead the way in forging
economic and political partnerships between state and private actors. Along with the continued
primacy of the UNCLOS legal framework, these opportunities are a compelling incentive for Arctic
states to emphasize mutual interests in the continued transformation of the circumpolar North.
Sincere thanks to J. Shadian (University of Lapland), H. Nicol (Trent University), and J. Agnew, L.
Smith, L. Alvarez, B. Crow, O.T. Ford, T. Le, and T. Narins (UCLA) for thoughtful commentary on
an earlier version of this manuscript. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation
Graduate Research Fellowship Program (DGE-0707424).
The ancestral homeland of the Saami, for example, extends throughout northern Fennoscandia
across Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.
Agnew, J. (2009).
Globalization and Sovereignty.
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Agnew, J. (2003). A World of Territorial States. In J. Agnew (Ed.),
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Alam, U., Dione, O., Jeffrey, P. (2009). The benefit-sharing principle: implementing sovereignty
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