The Arctic is governed from capitals far away—including Moscow, which oversees half of the region, and which is now locked in a geopolitical struggle with the Western capitals overseeing the other half. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has upended Arctic diplomacy, and one of the most important and fast-changing parts of our warming globe is fractured again along old Cold-War fault-lines.
But does the Arctic belong to far-away capitals, or to its own local communities? When the tanks rolled into Ukraine on 24th February 2022, did it mark the end of Mikhail Gorbachev’s enduring 1987 vision of the Arctic as ‘zone of peace’? Or are Arctic peoples really the glue that bind the region together? After all, they have called it home since time immemorial—long before far-away capitals incorporated the Arctic into their colonial empires.
Join Dr Anthony Speca FRGS for a fascinating exploration of today’s contested Arctic geopolitics.
I’m most grateful to the Royal Geographical Society East of England for the invitation to close their 2022-23 lecture series this week with a talk on the political geography of the Arctic. It was my second talk for RGS East, having addressed them once before about the ‘moral geography’ of the Arctic—that is, about the dubious ways in which we’ve imagined the Arctic that tend to erase the people who live there. In this talk, I was also concerned with ways in which we conceptualise the Arctic as an international region, and who has (or should have) power and voice there. Does the Arctic begin with states, or with peoples? Have a look at my presentation slides to find out my views. Many thanks also to Norwich School for hosting the talk—it was an enjoyable evening!