Gabriella Gricius

Traditional geopolitical theories characterize the Arctic as a zone of potential conflict with the overarching narrative that it is the site of the new Cold War and great power competition between Russia, the United States and China over resources. However, this dominant approach often ignores the extent to which colonial legacies and neocolonial ideas play an instrumental role in influencing these security narratives. There is a need for a more nuanced understanding of Arctic security, particularly as it has to do with how different Arctic states express their sovereignty in practice. A decolonial approach to studying security in the Arctic can better reveal how expressions of sovereignty represent much of the same social and political hierarchies that existed during the colonial era. In this research, I aim to unpack the security narratives and actions of three Arctic states, Canada, the United States, and Russia, by documenting instances of coloniality of knowledge in text as well as neocolonial actions that each state has taken. With this deconstruction of Arctic narratives, I propose a different perception of sovereignty in the Arctic as being heavily influenced by neocolonial narratives in practice and argue that traditional state-centered conceptions of sovereignty should change to acknowledge 1) the shifting geography of the Arctic, 2) the history and role of Indigenous people who live there and 3) adopt an approach that considers shared sovereignty as a more realistic Arctic version of sovereignty.

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