Hyperborean Habits and Melting Ice: The Normalization of Arctic Space and Resurgent National Identity

Author/s: Ian Birdwell, MA
Availability: Open Access
Type: Thesis
Year: 2019

Abstract: The Arctic Council has a robust history of fostering cooperation among its members on a host of environmental and scientific objectives. Yet, as the region has warmed the formerly inaccessible region has become ever easier to access, and Arctic politics are becoming of greater interest to the global community. In the midst significant change of this the network created by the Arctic Council continues to advance its cooperative agenda, though increasingly it seems to be experiencing setbacks due to the surges of nationalistic rhetoric on the part of its members. What best explains the transformation of national attitudes and how will such a transformation affect the future of Arctic politics? This paper argues the national identities of Arctic states limits the ability of the Arctic Council to create policy inroads into the national interests of its members in key identity-linked areas such as national defense, resource extraction, and territorial disputes. This propagates a normalization of Arctic politics, shifting the formerly unique hyperborean political system into something more readily resembling the interactions of Arctic states below the Arctic Circle. This is accomplished through a histographical analysis of Arctic Council policy recommendations, domestic political developments, and international relationships since 1989 between the Arctic Council and the two most nationalistic Arctic states, Russia and Canada. Ultimately, Arctic Council recommendations on issues linked to traditionally cooperative areas such as scientific cooperation and conservation do experience successful integration into member states; however, closely related to power national interests are neglected by states in favor of the pursuit of those interests.

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