Have You Heard the One About the Disappearing Ice? Recasting Arctic Geopolitics

Jason Dittmer, Sami Moisio, Alan Ingram, Klaus Dodds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article unpacks the discourse of Arctic geopolitics evident in the space-making practices of a wide variety of actors and institutions, offering an exploration of the ways in which the Arctic is emerging as a space of and for geopolitics. Tracing the well-aired story of Arctic geopolitics through neo-realist readings of climate change, the melting of polar ice, increasing competition for resources and so on, two kinds of spatial ordering are identified as being entwined in orthodox Arctic geopolitics. The first has to do with Arctic space as such, and its open, indeterminate nature in particular. The perceived openness of Arctic space enables it to become a space of masculinist fantasy and adventure, which is mirrored in contemporary accounts of Arctic geopolitics. It is suggested that this is entwined with and nourishes the second ordering of Arctic space in terms of state-building and international relations. The working out of these spatial orderings in recent interventions in Arctic geopolitics is explored via three examples (two Arctic exhibitions in London, the Russian Polar expedition of 2007 and ’sovereignty patrols’ by Canadian Rangers). In conclusion, the article presents avenues for further critical research on Arctic geopolitics that emphasizes embodiment, the resolutely (trans)local, and a commitment to the everyday
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-214
Number of pages12
JournalPolitical Geography
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2011


  • Geopolitics
  • Arctic
  • Discourse
  • Space
  • Masculinities

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