Vesa Väätänen & Kaj Zimmerbauer
In this article we discuss how the Arctic is defined as a geopolitical and geoeconomic space through an analysis of Arctic strategy documents of Sweden and Norway. By positioning our analysis in relation to research that has discussed the relations between geopolitics, geoeconomics and geoeconomization, we approach geopolitics and geoeconomics as distinct, yet intertwined geostrategic discourses that emphasize political relations and (national) security, and economic relations and economic growth, respectively. We argue that the Arctic region is defined – or articulated – through these discourses in spatially distinctive ways: the geopolitical discourse emphasizes territorial and bounded character of space, while the relational and networked “soft” spatial vocabulary is emphasized in the geoeconomic discourse. However, we also show that this distinction is not always so clear-cut, and these discourses can draw on multidimensional spatial vocabularies that constitute the Arctic as a geopolitical and geoeconomic space. We further assess the relations between the geopolitical and geoeconomic articulations of the Arctic, and argue that there has been a shift in which geoeconomization – the increasing prevalence of economic hopefulness – has been partially replaced by a renewed emphasis on geopolitical fears that are attached to transforming global security dynamics. The analysis of geopolitical and geoeconomic articulations of the Arctic can help us understand how these articulations not only reflect, but also constitute the Arctic as a political and economic space, which enables the foregrounding of the repercussions this has for political and economic practices associated with the region.
Alexandra Middleton, Anastasia Lazariva, Frode Nilssen, Alexey Kalinin & Anastasia Belostotskaya
The Arctic region has increasingly come to be seen in a new light because of the global transformations resulting from the disruptive challenges of climate change and shifting global political, social and economic patterns. The harsh environmental conditions there have long constrained economic activity. The climate crisis, while having a negative impact on the region in some senses, opens up new prospects for development in others. The Arctic has become a geopolitical hot spot where global and regional players seek to increase their influence. On one side, the Arctic possesses vast natural resources and increasingly will be an important global source of bio-resources. The area is also one of geopolitical tension. On the other side, the Arctic represents a “temperature gauge” for distant pollution and waste in the sea. At the same time, powerful voices from supranational institutions are putting heavy pressure on preserving the Arctic as a kind of “nature protected area” with severe restrictions on economic activity and human impact. This paper draws attention to the tension between the regional interest in maintaining and developing a socially, economically and biologically sustainable area of human settlement and the more detached interest in preserving the Arctic as a nature reserve. The study approaches Arctic development from a social, ecological and environmental point of view, mapping key development drivers and the changing geopolitical context. The research utilizes scenario methodology and qualitative expert interviews combined with comprehensive literature studies. Four scenarios illustrate how the Arctic might look in 2050 and what the implications might be for the sustainable development of the region from the economic, social and environmental perspectives.
In 1931, Augo Lynge’s Ukiut 300-ngornerat (in English: Three Hundred Years Hence) became the second novel ever published in Kalaallisut (West-Greenlandic). Looking three centuries ahead from the arrival of the missionary Hans Egede and the beginning of Danish colonisation of the island in 1721,2 this piece of speculative fiction provides an optimistic modernistic view of future Greenland as a thriving, technologically advanced society. Clearly moulded in the image of the former coloniser, Greenland of 2021 as described in the novel is a Danish county, with an ethnically mixed, Greenland-Danish population. While modernisation has been fully embraced, in Lynge’s Greenland, traditional culture is barely surviving, and the county is largely bilingual (Kalaallisut-Danish). The Greenland population are confidently settled in their collective identity in a comfortable, integrated relationship with Denmark (Lynge, 1931/1989).
This paper questions the structure behind the substantial difficulties confronting the Inughuit, an Indigenous people from Avanersuaq (Northwest Greenland). By studying the colonial history of Avanersuaq, it identifies a specific ethnologic discourse which has systematically described the Inughuit as ‘primitive’ Kalaallit (West Greenlanders) since European explorers first encountered the Inughuit. It then assesses how this discourse has justified the gradual exclusion of the Inughuit from policy-making and their assimilation into the West Greenlandic society. This dynamic, initiated by the establishment of a Trading Station in Avanersuaq in 1910, has been maintained by the Danish and Greenlandic authorities since then. This assessment then allows a greater reflection on the economic and cultural instabilities the Inughuit continue to face. Indeed, this paper demonstrates that these adversities are inextricably linked to the authorities’ assumption that the Inughuit are ‘primitive’ - later ‘underdeveloped’ - Kalaallit and to the subsequent dispossession of the Inughuit of their political agency. In light of this analysis, this study concludes that colonisation has continuing effects in Avanersuaq today, which should be comprehensively addressed by the competent authorities to ensure the resiliency of the Inughuit as a distinct community.
The Russian Arctic is largely made up of non-Indigenous first generation immigrants. Where people come from in the context of renewed development of the Russian Arctic is important since little or nolateral migration is taking place, and the Arctic nature would clash with the ‘primal landscape’ of most. While there are works exploring ‘temporary mentality’ of migrants onto their attitudes towards theirtemporary second home, little is known of how these newcomers internalise the Arctic environment,how they use it, and how they interact with its wildlife.
Building on the field work research conducted in Salekhard and Mys Kamenny, Yamal district, Yamal-Building on the field work research conducted in Salekhard and Mys Kamenny, Yamal district, Yamal-Nenets-Autonomous Okrug in 2017, the paper is exploring human-animal interactions among settlednon-Indigenous residents as well as shift workers. Understanding how people explain and internalisethe Arctic provides insight into preparedness of the newcomers for the Arctic, environmental awareness(lay ecological knowledge based on observation, experience and sharing) and shifting perceptions of theArctic from ‘exotic’ to familiar. The research found that while settled migrants demonstrate more concernover their natural surroundings than shift workers, both groups are likely to lack environmentalknowledge and empowerment to act upon negative ecological dynamics in the area. Responsibility forthe environment was ascribed to government and corporations, while individual sense of place was selectivelybuilt on particular attributes of the environment.
Charlene Burns & Jacob Graham
An important consideration for government and wildfire management officials is understanding the factors that influence individuals’ perceptions of risk and risk management responsibility and their risk mitigation behaviors. An understudied factor is that of the social, cultural, and political environments in which individuals live. This study explores how the unique social, cultural, and political environments in the Alaskan Arctic influence individuals’ perceptions of risk and mitigation behaviors. The research was conducted through a comparative survey of residents of Fairbanks, Alaska and Los Angeles, California to investigate how perceptions of wildfire risk and individual/governmental responsibility varied between the American Arctic and continental U.S. The results of this study found that differences between Fairbanks and L.A. residents were apparent across how they perceived responsibility in their risk mitigation behaviors.