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Grounding Territory: Geoscience and the Territorial Ordering of Greenland During the Early Cold War

BRUUN, JOHANNE,MARGRETHE (2018) Grounding Territory: Geoscience and the Territorial Ordering of Greenland During the Early Cold War. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Following recent calls for a more ‘earthly’ geopolitics, this thesis contributes to the ongoing momentum within Political Geography to add depth, volume, and matter to the concept of territory. Merging insights from Science and Technology Studies with geographical studies of territory, this thesis asks how the sciences of the Earth may serve as technologies of territory. How, in other words, might states use science to forge a seemingly stable ordering of space which is extendable through time from a world defined by chaos, instability, and incessant change? To address this question, the thesis mobilises two instances of territory construction in Greenland during the early Cold War, when two differently motivated intruding powers, Denmark and the USA, both used Earth Science as a means of territorialising Greenlandic geographies. Firstly, the high-profile case of Danish uranium prospecting at Ilímaussaq exemplifies Danish attempts at casting Greenland as a space of extraction – as land upon which the nation might capitalise. Secondly, the practices of two interrelated US military scientific expeditionary outfits are used to show how the US sought to cast Greenlandic landscapes as a military terrain serving as an extra-sovereign extension of American state space.

Despite the apparent differences between these two cases, the empirical findings of this thesis complicate simplistic distinctions between land and terrain, the voluminous and the horizontal, and also between bio- and geo-political orderings of state space. Reading across these two instances of territory formation, the thesis draws attention to the temporal and processual characteristics of territory by showing how territory’s formation in Greenland was informed by a complicated interplay between stability and flow rather than a rigid ‘logic of solids’. Building on Stuart Elden’s work on territory and Elizabeth Grosz’s philosophies of Earth, this thesis thus argues that territory is, in part, a geo-political technology which allows the state to attune to the rhythmic forcefulness of Earth and draw on and over its latent power.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Territory, material politics, Earth, scientific practice, gepolitics
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:12 Feb 2018 09:26

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