Dorothee Bohn & Alix Varnajot
This paper discusses the everyday bordering practices of non- and sub-state actors in the European Arctic through a geopolitical lens. Specifically, we analyse the mechanisms, aims, and effects of how regional development and higher education and research institutions (HER), as well as the tourism sector, in climatically subarctic Fennoscandia, actively reposition themselves as centrally located in the Arctic. We depart from a critical and economic reading of geopolitics, which enquires into the production of territories of wealth, power, security, and belonging. Given the global publicity of the Arctic in media, research, and politics, the region has become an economic opportunity for sparsely populated areas in the European High North. This rescaling towards the global Arctic, also termed Arctification, offers non- and sub-state bodies the possibility to turn a historically deprived peripheral location into a competitive advantage. Hence, the Arctic moves southwards into Fennoscandian provinces that until recently had shown little identification with the region. The soft borders of the Arctic render the region a relational space that can be adapted and reinterpreted according to the interests of different actors. As such, Arctification appears to be a geopolitical process that alters representations of both the Arctic and the Nordic countries, which is nonetheless rooted in the global circuits of contemporary capitalism.