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Constructing the Arctic: Spheres of Influence and Risk Representations

Conflict
International Relations
Political Psychology
Regionalism
Security
Constructivism
Global
Climate Change
Sybille Reinke De Buitrago
PA Niedersachsen & Universität Hamburg
Sybille Reinke De Buitrago
PA Niedersachsen & Universität Hamburg

Abstract

The Arctic as maritime space has been gaining economic and geopolitical attention in recent years. We can observe the effects of climate change taking place in the Arctic, resulting in changed security situations for some states as well as a host of new claims regarding resources, transit and influence. While some, including in the media, have hyped up the developments in the region, there is also notable cooperation. Yet, strategies and their narratives of key Arctic states and Arctic-interested states express multiple points of contestation; some policies and a number of actual steps in the military, security and economic areas are pointing to growing conflict potential. The paper thus hones in on the Arctic and current developments there. The focus is placed on key state actors, including Arctic states and Arctic-interested states, how they interact, which processes are generated, and how conflict and/or cooperation are thereby facilitated. Conceptually, the paper takes a perspective combined of critical geopolitics and social psychology. It therewith examines practices of claim-making, of constructing space, of boundaries and spheres of influence, of risk representation, and how these motivates conflict potential or open new avenues for cooperation and governance.