1st Edition

The Politics of Sustainability in the Arctic Reconfiguring Identity, Space, and Time

Edited By Ulrik Pram Gad, Jeppe Strandsbjerg Copyright 2019
    276 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    276 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Politics of Sustainability in the Arctic argues that sustainability is a political concept because it defines and shapes competing visions of the future. In current Arctic affairs, prominent stakeholders agree that development needs to be sustainable, but there is no agreement over what it is that needs to be sustained. In original conservationist discourse, the environment was the sole referent object of sustainability; however, as sustainability discourses have expanded, the concept has been linked to an increasing number of referent objects, such as society, economy, culture, and identity.

    This book sets out a theoretical framework for understanding and analysing sustainability as a political concept, and provides a comprehensive empirical investigation of Arctic sustainability discourses. Presenting a range of case studies from Greenland, Norway, Canada, Russia, Iceland, and Alaska, the chapters in this volume analyse the concept of sustainability and how actors are employing and contesting this concept in specific regions within the Arctic. In doing so, the book demonstrates how sustainability is being given new meanings in the postcolonial Arctic and what the political implications are for postcoloniality, nature, and development more broadly.

    Beyond those interested in the Arctic, this book will also be of great value to students and scholars of sustainability, sustainable development, and identity and environmental politics.


    1. Introduction: sustainability as a political concept in the Arctic Ulrik Pram Gad, Marc Jacobsen and Jeppe Strandsbjerg  

    2. The sustainability of what? Stocks, communities, the public purse? Rikke Becker-Jacobsen 

    3. Sustainability understandings of Arctic shipping Kathrin Keil  

    4. Digging sustainability: scaling and sectoring of sovereignty in Greenland and Nunavut mining discourses Marc Jacobsen 

    5. "Without seals, there are no Greenlanders": colonial and postcolonial narratives of sustainability and Inuit seal hunting Naja Dyrendom Graugaard 

    6. Scaling sustainability in the Arctic Frank Sejersen 

    7. Same word, same idea? Sustainable development talk and the Russian Arctic Elana Wilson Rowe 

    8. The right to "sustainable development" and Greenland’s lack of a climate policy Lill Rastad Bjørst 

    9. Building a Blue Economy in the Arctic Ocean: sustaining the sea or sustaining the state? Philip Steinberg and Berit Kristoffersen

    10. Saving the Arctic: Green Peace or oil riot? Hannes Gerhardt, Berit Kristoffersen and Kirsti Stuvøy 

    11. Sustaining the Arctic nation state: The Case of Norway, Iceland, and Canada Ingrid Medby 

    12. ‘How we use our nature’: sustainability and indigeneity in Greenlandic discourse Kirsten Thisted 

    13. Sustaining Denmark, sustaining Greenland Johanne Bruun 

    14. A new path in the last frontier state? Transforming energy geogragrahies of agency, sovereignty, and sustainability in Alaska Victoria Herrmann 

    15. Geo-assembling narratives of sustainability in Greenland Klaus Dodds and Mark Nuttall 

    16. Conclusion: sustainability reconfiguring identity, space, and time Ulrik Pram Gad and Jeppe Strandsbjerg


    Jeppe Strandsbjerg is Editor-in-Chief for Social Science at Djøf Publishing. Previously, he was Associate Professor at the Department of Business and Politics, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

    Ulrik Pram Gad is Associate Professor of Arctic Culture and Politics at Aalborg University, Denmark

    "Gad and Strandsbjerg have succeeded in gathering an interdisciplinary group of scholars that share their insight into the many aspects, understandings, perceptions and applications of the politics of sustainability in the Arctic. The multifaceted approaches and answers to the editors’ key research questions: ‘What is to be sustained?’ ‘In relation to what?’ and ‘How?’ provide valuable reading for the academic community, politicians, indigenous peoples' organisations as well as other Arctic decision makers and stakeholders."Birger Poppel, Ilisimatusarfik, University of Greenland

    "As the SDGs are being implemented as a tool for monitoring both human and planetary well-being, the essays in The Politics of Sustainability in the Arctic: Reconfiguring Identity, Space, and Time serve as a crucial reminder that probing the reference object of sustainability, an historical gaze and empirical richness are necessary for understanding sustainability politics." - Annika E. Nilsson, Independent researcher, Sweden