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Norwegian Polar Politics 1870-2014

Awarded: NOK 1.6 mill.

The project will be administrated from the Department of History and Religious Studies at the University of Tromsø, and will draw on competence and the international network which has been accumulated through more than 15 years of research on polar histor y. It will address the major historical processes and the importance of political culture to international relations in the Polar Regions, which is crucial for a broad and enlightened understanding of the present and the near future. It will discuss how today's problems or challenges, related to for instance geopolitics, natural resources or climate change, have been identified, conceptualised and treated through history, both by government bodies as well as other actors. We will also investigate the d eveloping landscape of circumpolar indigenous policies. Both normative and historical arguments favour this. Local residents belong to a group of actors that previuosly have been given limited space politically. In addition, indigenous actors also represe nt a fruitful point of departure when trying to broaden the scope of the historical scholarship in polar politics. And, importantly: The project discusses geopolitical and institutional changes in the Arctic and the Antarctic, including the significance of "Arctic newcomers" to Norwegian polar policy. A historical understanding of the structures that underpin today's social, political, and economic systems is more important than ever. The systems of power relations that existed at specific historical mom ents persist into the present in the form of governance structures (for instance the Svalbard Treaty or more recently the Arctic Council), in effect allowing the past to continue influencing the future.

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