Publication Date

Summer 7-8-2013


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.


The Polar Journal





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Environmental Studies