The Polar Journal
References to a “New North” have snowballed across popular media in the past
10 years. By invoking the phrase, scientists, policy analysts, journalists and others
draw attention to the collision of global warming and global investment in
the Arctic today and project a variety of futures for the region and the planet.
While changes are apparent, the trope of a “New North” is not new. Discourses
that appraised unfamiliar situations at the top of the world have recurred
throughout the twentieth century. They have also accompanied attempts to
cajole, conquer, civilize, consume, conserve and capitalize upon the far north.
This article examines these politics of the “New North” by critically reading
“New North” texts from the North American Arctic between 1910 and 2010. In
each case, appeals to novelty drew from evaluations of the historical record and
assessments of the Arctic’s shifting position in global affairs. “New North”
authors pinpointed the ways science, state power, capital and technology transformed
northern landscapes at different moments in time. They also licensed
political and corporate influence in the region by delimiting the colonial legacies
already apparent there. Given these tendencies, scholars need to approach the
most recent iteration of the “New North” carefully without concealing or repeating
the most troubling aspects of the Arctic’s past.
Stuhl, Andrew T.. "The Politics of the "New North": Putting History and Geography at Stake in Arctic Futures." The Polar Journal 3, no. 1 (2013) : 94-119.