Reply To: Seminar reflections – Governance of the Arctic 30/3

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Camilla W # Posted on March 31, 2015 at 16:31

Reflection Current Debates, 30/3
Camilla Winqvist

Since I went to the seminar at KTH, I decided to write my reflection assignment on that instead of our seminar so that you can all take part of the things that were said.

First of all, it was not a lecture as said on our schedule for the course. It was a higher seminar, meaning that all of the people in the room (except for me) had PhDs. I felt a bit out of place because of this, but I took notes as best as I could and tried to look like I belonged. I did not.
The discussion at the seminar was not really about the Arctic, but more about Nilsson’s and Christensen’s new project which they presented at the seminar. The others in the room were critiquing their theories, methods and concepts so the discussion was purely theoretical and methodological. Needless to say, the discussion was not on a Masters’ level.

Firstly, Nilsson and Christensen spoke about their project called “Arctic governance and the questions of ‘fit’ in an era of globally transformative change”. Nilsson spoke about the term “governance” and why it was a loaded term. She argued that governance can be done by more than just formal governments, for example networks of non-state actors. There are also different kinds of governance in the Arctic, she spoke about hard law vs soft law. Hard law is binding agreements with possible sanctions if you break them, while soft law is for example cooperation between different stakeholders that is not binding and less formal. She also spoke some about the fact that the stakeholders not necessarily are the ones with arctic borders, other countries (and corporations) have interests there which makes governance hard for purely diplomatic reasons.

Christensen then spoke about geopolitics as it plays out, and that it is the object of study for them, and the different forms of geopolitics (structural, practical, formal and popular). The classical geopolitical view of space is “space as given”, while critical geopolitics views space as “space as constructed”.
Their study will focus on discourse and content between the different stakeholders that govern the Arctic, and they will analyse the discourse as an iterative interplay.

They got some feedback from the other researchers in the room, amongst them Sverker Sörlin and Gunnel Cederlöf.
Quite a few felt that the term “fit” was not explained properly, and that they could not really understand it. I cannot for the life of me even try to retell the discussion about “fit”, and I cannot even tell you what “fit is. Although, I will not feel that bad about it since not even Sverker Sörlin understood the concept.

I know that you wanted me to ask about the future of the Arctic and what needs to be done to improve the conditions, but I could not bear to ask when all of the others only asked about semantics, theory and methods. I will point out, again, that this was NOT a lecture and the seminar was purely about the theoretical and methodological outline of their new project.

Ps, Sorry about the late upload!