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Arctic geopoetics: Russian politics at the North Pole

Hansen-Magnusson, Hannes 2019. Arctic geopoetics: Russian politics at the North Pole. Cooperation and Conflict 54 (4) , pp. 466-487. 10.1177/0010836718815526

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The article develops a geopoetic approach to Russian Arctic politics. It rests on the empirical observation that due to climate change, the Arctic landscape is undergoing profound transformations, which has led to multilateral governance efforts but also unilateral pursuits. In this general heterogeneity, Russia’s policies have raised the most pressing questions regarding the country’s motivations to engage in the region. Cultural approaches to global politics are most suitable to create holistic understandings and explanations in this regard, but they lack discussing a spatial dimension of Russian identity. By developing a geopoetic account, the article complements this research through methodological insights from critical geography. Geopoetics focuses on the cultural roots and their cognitive-emotional dimension, on the basis of which claims to the Arctic and related policies resonate with a broader audience. The article argues that Russian policies have their foundation in a utopian ideal of Soviet socialist realism that was widely popularised in the 1920s and later decades. Applying the hermeneutic tool of topos, the article highlights that three features stand out that interweave into a coherent imaginary of the Arctic: first, the heroic explorer; second, the conquest of nature; and third, the role of science and technology. Analysts would do well to bear in mind how the Arctic becomes intelligible when commenting on policies.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Department of Politics and International Relations (POLIR)
Additional Information: Released with a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives License (CC BY-NC-ND)
Publisher: SAGE
ISSN: 0010-8367
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 14 November 2018
Date of Acceptance: 12 October 2018
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2021 04:20

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