Against decline? The geographies and temporalities of the Arctic cryosphere

K Dodds, Jen Rose Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Over centuries, Western desires of Arctic space have consistently worked to render icy locales of the North legible to an audience further south. In non-Indigenous reportage, the Arctic has been framed through a dominating lens that narrates it as a ‘natural region’ or cryosphere where elemental qualities such as cold, ice, snow and darkness reign supreme. The cryosphere is often overwhelmingly dissected and demarcated not by Indigenous historical and ongoing claims to space, but instead through the documented presence of particular biota as they correlate to lines of latitude and/or cold temporalities (e.g. ‘frozen for most of the year’). New descriptors such as ‘Atlantification’ are the latest in a line of tropes and descriptors being used to account and audit an Arctic that is said to be undergoing fundamental ‘declinist’ state-change. Judged to be no longer satisfactory described as a circumpolar region, rigidly defined by coldness north of the Arctic Circle, the Arctic’s physical and environmental qualities are now being cultivated as a ‘new Arctic’. Ice and cold are fundamental to the everyday working and spiritual lives of northern communities. We argue that there are timely opportunities for ice humanities scholars to be mindful of enduring inhumanities in the sense of erasing/dispossessing those who inhabit worlds where there are co-relationalities with ice, multi-species relationships, and multiple spatialities, seasonalities and temporalities that don’t pivot around Euro-American/global framings of time and space, geopolitical worlding and extractive capitalism.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGeographical Journal
Early online date29 Sept 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Sept 2022

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