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Peopling the State: Arctic State Identity in Norway, Iceland, and Canada

MEDBY, INGRID,AGNETE (2017) Peopling the State: Arctic State Identity in Norway, Iceland, and Canada. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 01 March 2027.


As increasing levels of attention are directed northwards to the rapidly changing Arctic region, states and stakeholders from near and far position themselves in anticipation of what is yet to come – challenges and opportunities, Arctic futures. For the eight Arctic states with territory north of the Arctic Circle, this has prompted new emphasis on their ‘Arctic identities’: political claims of homelands and histories through which formal credibility and authority are consolidated and normalised. However, as a space that has often been imagined in terms of distances, frontiers, ice, cold, and snow, Arctic identity narratives are a matter of re-interpretation, re-negotiation, and re-imagination of the ‘nation-state’, who and where ‘we’ are.

While emotive statements of identity may or may not resonate with electorates, what has hitherto been less explored is how these work within the state itself to condition political practice. That is, how a formal title of Arctic statehood is understood, related to, and subsequently enacted by those tasked with its everyday performance – indeed, the everyday practices through which the ‘Arctic state’ emerges as such. Recognising the state as an idea(l) that only ‘materialises’ as an effect of practice arguably necessitates attention to those performing said practices – state personnel.

To this end, I here introduce the concept of ‘state identity’ discourses in order to explore how state representatives’ articulations of identity are bounded in spatiotemporal terms, and yet, are always relational; the Arctic state comes about through encounters at all scales of interaction, from the international to the intimately personal. With reflections from state representatives in three of the eight Arctic states – Norway, Iceland, and Canada – I argue that we need to acknowledge the numerous subjectivities, stories, and relations through which the Arctic state comes into being, thereby ‘peopling’ the state.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Identity; Geopolitics; Nationalism; Arctic; Territory; Homeland; Discourse; Environment; State; Nation; Elites; Politicians; Peopling
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2017
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:13 Mar 2017 14:51

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