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Arctic Yearbook 2012
Collaborative Infrastructures: A Roadmap for International Cooperation in the Arctic
direct consent do so because the authority to tax is given implicitly by the people who receive
benefits from government-provided services. Roads, law enforcement, pensions, and medical care
are all manifestations of infrastructural power.
Because infrastructural power is often exercised in and around population centers in order to
maximize the benefit of services, infrastructural power is highest where territoriality is unambiguous.
Borders provide bounded, centrally organized spaces within which taxes may be collected, services
rendered, and information gathered. Domestic sovereignty within clearly-defined borders allows
states to deliver services to the people who both support and depend on those services, without
foreign intrusion (Agnew, 2003). Similarly, social stability flows from a government’s capacity to
exercise effective infrastructural power, because a population invested in benefits provided or
facilitated by the state is unlikely to overthrow the system providing those benefits. Infrastructural
power thus becomes “the quintessential indicator of modern statehood” (Agnew, 2009: 117).
It is important to note that a state may exercise
infrastructural power
without actually deploying
itself. The Alaskan Native Land Claims Agreement (1971), Canadian Land Claim
Agreements (beginning with the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, 1975), and institution
of Home Rule in Greenland (1979) were landmark steps toward devolving governance locally and
economically empowering communities (Grant, 2010). These agreements bolstered state legitimacy
in the North by allowing native populations to become politically and economically invested in a
system created and controlled by the state – a clear and tangible demonstration of sovereignty. Thus,
a form of infrastructural power deriving from unique governance systems has been in place in the
western Arctic since the 1970s. However, it should be noted that the prospects for similar regimes of
native empowerment in Eurasia are dimmer, due to homelands crossing modern political
(Smith, 2011) and extant systems of federal resource control (Stammler and Wilson,
2006; Stammler and Peskov, 2008).
Despite the power afforded by these governance systems, other types of infrastructural power
deriving from the presence of physical infrastructure remain lacking in the Arctic relative to southern
latitudes. The Arctic has some of the lowest concentrations of built and human infrastructure in the
world, due to costs imposed by cold winters and remoteness from large population centers. For
example, per-capita transport and communication costs are much higher in the Northwest
Territories (+36%) and Nunavut (+160%) compared with Canada as a whole (Statistics Canada,
2009). The penetration of transportation systems in northern countries has often taken the form of