1st Edition

Science, Geopolitics and Culture in the Polar Region Norden Beyond Borders

By Sverker Sörlin Copyright 2013

    Throughout the twentieth century, glaciologists and geophysicists from Denmark, Norway and Sweden made important scientific contributions across the Arctic and Antarctic. This research was of acute security and policy interest during the Cold War, as knowledge of the polar regions assumed military importance. But scientists also helped make the polar regions Nordic spaces in a cultural and political sense, with scientists from Norden punching far above their weight in terms of population, geographical size or economic activity. This volume presents an image of Norden that stretches far beyond its conventional limits, covering a vast area in the North Atlantic and the Arctic Sea, as well as parts of Antarctica. Rich in resources, scarce in population, but critically important in global and regional geopolitics, these spaces were contested by major powers such as Russia, the United States, Canada and, in the Antarctic, Argentina, Australia, South Africa and others. The empirical focus on Danish, Norwegian and Swedish influence in the polar regions during the twentieth century embraces a diverse array of themes, from the role of science in policy and diplomacy to the tensions between nationalism and internationalism, with clear relevance to the important role science plays in contemporary discussions about Nordic engagement with the polar regions.

    1: Introduction: Polar Extensions – Nordic States and their Polar Strategies; I: Bipolar Extensions: The Geopolitics of Nordic Presence in the Arctic and Antarctica; 2: Ice Diplomacy and Climate Change: Hans Ahlmann and the Quest for a Nordic Region beyond Borders; 3: Nordic or National? Post-war Visions of Polar Conflict and Cooperation; 4: ‘But Why Do You Go There?' Norway and South Africa in the Antarctic during the 1950s; II: Eastward Extensions: Russia and the Nordic Nations; 5: Field Stations on the Coast of the Arctic Ocean in the European Part of Russia from the First to Second IPY 1; 6: Science In-between: Norway, the European Arctic and the Soviet Union; 7: Linking People through Fish: Science and Barents Sea Fish Resources in the Context of Russian–Scandinavian Relations; 8: Science and Industry in Northern Russia from a Nordic Perspective; III: Westward Extensions: Greenland and the Ambiguities of Sovereignty; 9: Discourses of Indigeneity: Branding Greenland in the Age of Self-Government and Climate Change; 10: The Arctic Gaze: Redefining the Boundaries of the Nordic Region 1; IV: Cultural Extensions: Ideas and Institutions; 11: Displaying the Polar Nation: Nordic Museum Exhibits and Polar Ambitions; 12: Heritage in Action: Historical Remains in Polar Conflicts; 13: The Nordic Nations in Polar Science: Expeditions, International Polar Years and their Geopolitical Dimensions; 14: The Nordic Arctic Periphery: Fragments from Fieldwork


    Sverker Sörlin is Professor in the Division of History of Science and Technology at the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm and Senior Researcher at Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden. In 2004 his two-volume history of European science and ideas from 1492-1918 won the August [Strinberg] Prize for the best non-fiction book of the year. His most recent book in English is Nature's End: History and the Environment (with Paul Warde) (2009).

    A Baker & Taylor Academic Essentials Title in Human Geography 'Science, geopolitics and culture in the polar region is an excellent reflection of the wide range of Nordic-Arctic interconnectedness and an enriching point of access for its many facets.' Polar Record ’...the book is extremely detailed... the detailed descriptions of the diverse case studies highlight the close and changing interplay of science and politics and the ways in which research agendas and priorities reflect political situations and concerns and vice versa.’ Barents Studies 'The book is a rich and illuminating collection of contributions to the history of science and politics in the Arctic and, most of all, Nordic scientific cooperation with Russian and other partners from the region.' Journal of Historical Geography