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Arctic Yearbook 2012
Collaborative Infrastructures: A Roadmap for International Cooperation in the Arctic
Given this paucity of infrastructure, it follows that the “territorialization of social relations” that
results from deployment of infrastructural power (Mann, 1984) would be commensurately lower
than at southern latitudes. Infrastructural power has penetrated society less deeply in the Arctic than
in other places; here, the state retains full juridical control while lacking in practical control. For
example, governments that lack weather stations, coast guard outposts, and trained personnel in their
Northern territories may fail to forecast ice conditions, enforce regulations on oil and gas activities,
and respond to disasters. Consequently, resident populations may have to cope with the insecurities
of uncertain weather, unregulated petroleum extraction, and the specter of an ill-prepared response
to oil spills. Policies which address such infrastructural deficits enjoy widespread support among
Canadians, particularly those aimed at improving environmental disaster response capacities (92% of
Northerners; 90% of Southerners); however, current capacities are rated as “profoundly inadequate”
by a majority of Canadians (EKOS Research Associates, 2011).
A relative lack of infrastructural power in the North can impel a state to exercise despotic power in
overt ways. Before the North American land claims agreements were settled, policies exerting direct
control over indigenous populations – such as Canada’s forced relocation and compulsory boarding
schools for Inuit in the 1950s – demonstrated state penetration of daily lives through despotic
means. Such policies confer power through coercive control rather than through a set of freedoms
and safeguards afforded by state-sponsored infrastructure and social systems. Militarization and
appeals to nationalism are other clear examples of this power imbalance. While built and human
infrastructure may take decades to implement in the North, military power and nationalist rhetoric
can be deployed relatively quickly and cheaply. Post offices and submarine patrols both affirm state
sovereignty, albeit in very different ways.
However, as Arctic states become more attuned to their Northern interests, we are seeing an increase
in infrastructural power resulting from government-initiated development programs. States that see
their economic future in Northern development such as Russia, Norway, and Canada are investing
heavily in transportation, communication, and research infrastructure. Norway, already one of the
most infrastructurally developed Arctic states, has long been spearheading scientific research in the
Svalbard Archipelago by collaborating with research institutions from numerous countries, including
the eight Arctic states (Norwegian MJP, 1999). In doing so, Norway is securing its position as a
world leader in Arctic research and oil and gas technology. Russia has plans to develop its inland-
maritime connectivity by building railways linking ports at Amderma and Indiga with interior