Research Project 2

The Postcolonial Arctic


  1. To establish the case for a ‘postcolonial Arctic’ in terms of both the colonial past and colonial present of the region
  2. To consider to what extent colonialism in the Arctic, both past and present, can be seen in ecological terms
  3. To ask whether indigenous perspectives on the Arctic have the capacity to effect an imaginative reclamation of the region in ways that support cultural and political autonomy and/or look forward to a more ‘planetary’ vision of the Arctic in times to come

Like WP1, WP2 is a team project involving researchers at all levels from the partner countries. The research will draw on and combine disciplinary perspectives from history, geography, anthropology, political science and environmental studies, as well as literary and visual studies, in order to look at the continuing colonisation of the Arctic in symbolic (representational) and material (commercial) terms. It will focus on recent verbal and visual representations of the European Arctic, not least in the context of climate change and other localised manifestations of global risk society; however, it will put these with a wider historical frame to make the case for a ‘postcolonial Arctic’ in which locally articulated desires to decolonise the region are seen in both ecological and cultural-political terms. The project will see the current scramble for the Arctic in terms of a centuries-long pursuit of material wealth and political purchase in the region that has hardly diminished for the various colonial and commercial powers concerned (Craciun 2009). The Arctic might thus be described as having a colonial past, but also a colonial present, and the project operates with this double understanding of the postcolonial: as both a painful negotiation of the legacies of earlier eras and a reckoning––in many ways equally damaging––with those new forms of colonialism and imperialism that have surfaced in today’s globalised world. But it also operates with a third, more hopeful understanding of the postcolonial: as setting up the parameters for both imaginative and material transformation so as to support cultural and political autonomy, but also to create the conditions for a more ‘planetary’ (cosmopolitan, socially and ecologically balanced) vision of the world.

Research Team Members
Graham Huggan
Lars Jensen
Simone Abram
Astrid Andersen
Kirsten Hvenegård-Lassen
Lars Jensen
Britt Kramvig
Berit Kristofferson
Michael Leonard
Kristín Loftsdóttir
Katrín Anna Lund
Roger Norum

RP1 | Green Ice

RP2 | The Postcolonial Arctic

RP3 | ‘Greening’ Greenland: Contemporary Travel/Writing and Environmentalism

RP4 | Between ‘Europe’ and the ‘Arctic’: Iceland as a gateway destination

RP5 | Visualizing autonomy in sub-Arctic coastal tourism: a case study from northern Norway

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