New Directions in Arctic Studies
Málstofustjóri: Page Wilson
Until recently, Arctic-themed research in the social sciences has largely been subsumed under other classifications – for instance, research on ‘Polar’, ‘Circumpolar’, ‘Northern’ and ‘Nordic’ topics. Furthermore, current popular, and even academic, understandings of ‘the Arctic’ are dominated by narratives emanating from the natural and physical sciences. With human activity in the region increasing as never before, this marginalisation of Arctic social science can no longer be justified (if it ever could be). This panel brings together papers that showcase the diverse, important and presently undervalued contributions the social sciences can make to knowledge of the Arctic region.
Sjá ágrip erindanna hér fyrir neðan.
True North? Why the World Needs Arctic Studies
Evidence of the rapid and unprecedented changes taking place in the Arctic region is now a regular feature of the media landscape. However, both inside and outside academia, ‘mental maps’ of the Arctic region generally remain firmly rooted to past, outsider, and natural science-oriented narratives. This paper examines the constraints of existing ‘mental maps’ in light of the ‘new’ Arctic environment and considers the possibilities of an Arctic-centred scholarly approach, with a research agenda in its own right, firmly situated in the social sciences. The paper further argues that such an approach would achieve various positive outcomes, including recognition of the Arctic as a region worthy of study in and of itself; conceptual coherence; and a greater sense of identity, and therefore visibility, for Arctic scholars.
The Arctic in Japan´s Foreign Policy
In 2015 Japan published its first offical Arctic Policy after joining the Arctic Council with observer status in 2013, along with China, India, Singapore and South Korea. Due the often stated „reactive character“ of Japan´s foreign policy (deriving from Calder´s „reactive state“ paradigm), Japan´s recent Arctic agenda could easily be interpreted as opportunistic participation in the Asian „race to the North“, and a simple analysis of Japan´s foreign policy documents would support such a view. It is important, however, to look closer to understand the background and motives for the Asian nations´ interest in the Arctic. Through a closer study, including discourse analysis, of central foreign and science policy documents, the paper demonstrates Japan´s long and deep official commitment to an Arctic – and Antarctic agenda. The paper further argues that geographical ‘mental maps’ of the Arctic region have been firmly established in Japan, although narrowly confined to certain academic circles and not appearing in the realm of foreign policy until recent years.
The Role of Arctic Science Diplomacy in China-Nordic Relations
The aim of the article is to analyse the different use of science diplomacy in Arctic cooperation and its role in the development of China-Nordic Arctic relations. Focusing on the different forms of Nordic bilateral and multilateral interaction mechanisms in the Arctic through the role of science diplomacy in the “triple-helix” between science, industry, and governance in the context of China’s Arctic strategy, which aims to build both bilateral relationships with individual Nordic countries and regional cooperation. The contribution of science diplomacy needs to be expanded in dealing with the complex challenges facing the Arctic region, including developments such as increased impact of climate change, more engagement from Asian countries in Arctic affairs and escalating geopolitical tension. In the Royal Society’s report “New Frontiers in Science Diplomacy: Navigating the Changing Balance of Power” (2010) there are three policy strands highlighted, which science diplomacy can contribute to: 1. Providing foreign policy objectives with scientific advice (“science in diplomacy”); 2. Facilitating international science cooperation (“diplomacy for science”); 3. Using science cooperation to improve international relations between countries (“science for diplomacy”). All three modes of Science Diplomacy are evident in Arctic cooperation and the article aims to analyse the scope of science diplomacy in China-Nordic Arctic relations, placing the relations within the context of science diplomacy and a developing “Global Arctic” debate.