Being 'near-Arctic': a Critical Geopolitics of contemporary British policy towards the Far North

Duncan Depledge

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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The thesis offers a Critical Geopolitics of contemporary British policy towards the Arctic (c. 2007-2014). British interest in the Arctic has grown over the past decade in response to profound shifts in the very materiality of the Arctic region (conceived as an assemblage of sea-ice, other natural systems and various forms of human activity). This interest has been expressed through a variety of textual, affective and material interventions (together constituting a ‘discourse’) by British policymakers. However, the various agencies involved in producing these policy interventions are far more diffuse, drawing in an array of human and non-human actors, sites, practices and affects that variously facilitate, frustrate and interfere with policy outcomes. This, in turn, raises critical questions about who and/or what counts as ‘Britain’ in an Arctic context, and who and/or what actors and interests are being supported and resisted by these policy interventions. In response to these questions, the thesis makes three core claims: 1) that what has counted as British interest in the Arctic has changed considerably over the past four centuries, undermining the at times taken-for-granted claim that Britain is an ‘Arctic’ or ‘near-Arctic’ State; 2) that contemporary British policy toward the Arctic is actualised in diffuse ways as a consequence of the multiple sites, actors, practices and affects involved; and 3) that this multiplicity poses a policy problem which the British government’s ‘Arctic Policy Framework’ white paper has been designed to resolve. However, as the thesis concludes, far from resolving the contemporary controversies in British Arctic policy, the Arctic Policy Framework emerges as only providing a precarious settlement which continues to be interfered with by a range of human as well as non-human agents.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Dodds, Klaus, Supervisor
Award date1 Jan 2015
Publication statusUnpublished - 2014

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