Lines of possession? The anxious constitution of a polar geopolitics

Peer Reviewed

Powell RC

Political Geography 29, Issue 2, pages 74-77, 2010, 10.1016/j.polgeo.2010.02.001.

In recent studies in international relations, it has become commonplace to herald the return of the Arctic (Potts & Schofield, 2008). It might be expected that such readings could border on the simplistic, but what has certainly been evident over the past couple of years is a growing global interest in the Circumpolar Region incited by climatic changes, inventories of energy resources and revitalised displays of scientific nationalism. The geography of the Arctic, and its situation within global politics, is being rapidly rewritten through a number of inscriptions.

In his engaging article, Klaus Dodds enhances the critical geopolitical agenda for a burgeoning group of geographers interested in the social implications of climatic changes in the northern latitudes (Ford, 2009 and Laidler, 2006). For political geographers, this raises questions about who gets to speak about and for Arctic geographies. And it is within these debates that Dodds is positioning himself. As a theoretician of geopolitics and student of the Antarctic, it hardly needs remarking that Dodds’s work has been influential in shaping both fields. But this article, consolidating upon an Editorial in the aftermath of the events of summer 2007, marks his departure North.

My comments are structured around responses to three interrelated issues that Dodds raises, namely, scientific nationalism and continental shelves, the ontology of indigenous sovereignty, and the exceptionality of the North.

Keywords: Arctic, Critical geopolitics, Law of the Sea, Sovereignty, Indigenous peoples
Categories: Antarctic, Arctic, Social Science