Vesa Väätänen & Kaj Zimmerbauer

In this article we discuss how the Arctic is defined as a geopolitical and geoeconomic space through an analysis of Arctic strategy documents of Sweden and Norway. By positioning our analysis in relation to research that has discussed the relations between geopolitics, geoeconomics and geoeconomization, we approach geopolitics and geoeconomics as distinct, yet intertwined geostrategic discourses that emphasize political relations and (national) security, and economic relations and economic growth, respectively. We argue that the Arctic region is defined – or articulated – through these discourses in spatially distinctive ways: the geopolitical discourse emphasizes territorial and bounded character of space, while the relational and networked “soft” spatial vocabulary is emphasized in the geoeconomic discourse. However, we also show that this distinction is not always so clear-cut, and these discourses can draw on multidimensional spatial vocabularies that constitute the Arctic as a geopolitical and geoeconomic space. We further assess the relations between the geopolitical and geoeconomic articulations of the Arctic, and argue that there has been a shift in which geoeconomization – the increasing prevalence of economic hopefulness – has been partially replaced by a renewed emphasis on geopolitical fears that are attached to transforming global security dynamics. The analysis of geopolitical and geoeconomic articulations of the Arctic can help us understand how these articulations not only reflect, but also constitute the Arctic as a political and economic space, which enables the foregrounding of the repercussions this has for political and economic practices associated with the region.

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