Hs Department of Social Sciences
I denne fokusspalten tar vi for oss hvordan den norske nordområdepolitikken har blitt kommunisert gjennom bruk av politiske «narrativer». Ved bruk av narrativ politisk analyse belyser vi bruk av ideer om fortid, nåtid og fremtid i og som «nord». Innenriks har dette betydd en gjenfortelling av identitet og økt oppmerksomhet på elementer som hav- og kysthistorie, og utenriks har det betydd en reevaluering av Norges posisjon i verden. Ikke minst har landets internasjonale rolle i dette narrativet blitt karakterisert av ideer om lederskap, bærekraft og ansvar. Vi konkluderer med at nordområdenarrativet har utviklet seg over tid, men at fortellingen slett ikke er over ennå. Den fortsetter i ubrutt takt nordover – og mot havrommet.
= In this short article we consider how Norwegian High North policies have been communicated through political “narratives”. Through Narrative Political Analysis, we highlight the use of ideas about past, present and future in and as “the north”. Domestically, this has meant a renarrativisation of identity and an increased focus on elements such as ocean and coastal histories; and internationally, it has meant a reassessment of Norway’s position in the world. No least the country’s international role has in this narrative been characterised by ideas of leadership, sustainability, and responsibility. We conclude that the High North narrative has evolved over time, but that the story is far from over; it continues at steady pace northwards – and towards the ocean.
Ever since its disappearance in the mid-19th-century, the fate of the ‘Franklin expedition’ has attracted interest and intrigue. The story has been told and re-told but remained one of ‘mystery’ into the early 21st-century. When the expedition’s two ships were finally located, the narrative shifted with the reappearance of long-absent objects and materials – in turn, posing challenges for museum curators seeking to re-present the story. In this article, we conduct a side-by-side examination of two sites: the 1845 Franklin expedition in the Northwest Passage and the 2017 Death in the Ice exhibition at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, UK. We juxtapose these to consider the forces unleashed by the ships’ absence and their presence-ing first in Victorian times and then in the UK museum space today. By analysing the sites through the concept of ‘absent presence’, the agency of both the material and the immaterial is powerfully highlighted. Via an emphasis on the relation of the absent presence to the sensing bodies of others, we consider the concept as simultaneous and co-constitutive. That is, absence and presence ought to be understood not as objective states, but as becoming-absent and becoming-present: processes that are dependent on curated and embodied sensibilities.
Geography is closely tied to language: denominations, definitions, and metaphors are all part of conditioning spatial understandings. In recent years, critical geographers have also highlighted that there is much more to geography than its representation. One philosopher whose work centred on the relationship between language and practice, meaning and use, was Ludwig Wittgenstein. Yet, explicit engagement with his thought has been modest in geography. This article argues that Wittgenstein’s later philosophy of language offers useful contributions to the study of geography. It focuses on a space presently undergoing rapid “spatialisation”, the Arctic, and draws on articulations by Norwegian state personnel, policy papers, and speeches. Using Wittgenstein’s concept of “language-games”, the paper demonstrates how spatial understandings are closely tied to practice, while political practices themselves are as much about knowing how to use language. The aim here is neither to unmask any hidden meaning nor to arrive at any one definition, but rather to highlight how meaning lies in terms’ use. In order to “make sense of” seemingly competing names, definitions, and sayings, these must be seen in light of different practices. However, as socially defined, the “rules” may also change. This is arguably where the potential and political purchase of Wittgenstein’s thought lies: in emphasising how geographical meaning is made through social and political interaction.
With an aim to foster transferable skills and employability, the geography team at Oxford Brookes University is collaborating with students on the development of a digital research skills guide. Facilitated by a Teaching Innovation Award, the project includes a peer-mentoring scheme between second and third-year students and the co-production of published material to support the development of geographical skills. The project is embedded in two modules as well as an extra-curricular scheme, thereby ensuring both a high density of participation and longevity of the scheme. From the early design of the project to its eventual dissemination, the idea of staff-student partnership lies at the heart of the project.
After decades of going beyond the linguistic and textual concerns of early critical geopolitical scholarship, literatures in political geography are today offering rich engagements with the affective, material, embodied, and technological world. However, this paper argues that despite pressures to continually break new intellectual ground, political geography needs not and should not move wholly past concerns with language and language use. Instead, there is at present a need to reassess the value of language as both analytical topic and academic practice; not as alternative, but additive to new insights and conversations. The paper sketches how attention to language has been foregrounded and backgrounded in political geographical endeavours, using the examples of “new Cold War” claims and cybersecurity to show what some consider dichotomous approaches may be brought into conversation. A new research agenda is broadly outlined in order to diversify the discipline. This call for engagement with the linguistic extends not just to the empirical and methodological, but also the academically political: in efforts to diversify the academy, language is a key topic to be grappled with. In reconsidering academic practices, the argument thus extends to writing, publishing, and research writ large: through language and language use, political geography too may be re‐articulated.
Arctic decision‐making processes are often praised for including Indigenous peoples. Yet, state practices of “inclusion” may also inadvertently delimit what can be meaningfully said from a stage already set for a highly specific role as “Arctic voices”. This paper draws on reflections offered by Norwegian and Icelandic state personnel on the meanings of Arctic statehood and identity, showing how often well‐meaning attempts to “include” may serve the includer more than the included—indeed, may serve to uphold the same power structures they seemingly seek to improve. In so doing, the paper contributes both to understandings of Arctic statecraft and to work seeking the “peopling” of geopolitical concepts such as the state. By focusing on the operation of dominant discourses, the paper argues that current prescribed performances of “inclusion” are not enough in a region marked by histories of dispossession, assimilation, and colonisation.
The aim of ensuring Arctic sustainability seems universally agreed upon – even if the aim remains both undefined and contested in terms of sustainability of what, where, how, and by whom. The eight Arctic states – the full members of the Arctic Council with territory north of the Arctic Circle – not only hold particular rights here, but also particular responsibilities; among these is arguably a key role in ensuring Arctic sustainability. The title of ‘Arctic state’ is to be actively performed, and in the process becomes tied to questions of ‘who we are’ as a nation state. This chapter explores how discourses of sustainability become tied to those of national identity in the Arctic states, and in the process, the former comes to reproduce and reify the latter. Focusing on three of the eight Arctic states – Norway, Iceland, and Canada – the chapter draws on interviews with state personnel about their sense of an ‘Arctic identity’. Through their statements of ‘sustainable’ practices demonstrative of an identity – a seemingly inherent characteristic of the national community – they also indirectly ‘sustain’ the image and idea of the nation state itself.
This discussion paper explains how the UK’s climate is linked to conditions in the Arctic, and why a UK Arctic science strategy is integral to understanding how global warming will change the Arctic and affect the UK.