Nadine C. Fabbi
The nation-state has typically been employed as the primary unit for political analysis in conventional international relations theory. However, since the end of the Cold War, transnational issues such as climate change along with a growing number of multinational corporations and international organizations are challenging the limits of that analytical model. This is especially true in the Arctic where indigenous organizations have reframed the region as a distinct territory that transcends national political boundaries. In Canada, the Inuit have remapped the Arctic along cultural lines in an effort to ensure all Inuit benefit from future policy implementation. At the international level, the Inuit are promoting a concept of the Arctic based on cultural cohesion and shared challenges, in part to gain an enhanced voice in international affairs. The Inuit are also utilizing customary law to ensure their rights as a people will be upheld. What is occurring in the Arctic is an unparalleled level of indigenous political engagement. The Inuit are "remapping" the Arctic region and shaping domestic and international policy with implications for the circumpolar world and beyond. This paper explores the unique nature of Inuit political engagement in the Arctic via spatial and policy analysis, specifically addressing how the Inuit are reframing political space to create more appropriate "maps" for policy implementation and for the successful application of international customary law.
Nadine C. Fabbi is Associate Director of the Canadian Studies Center in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington.