“Amerikanskaya, finskaya mashina” (American, Finnish automobile). Hearing those words in 2003 spoken by one Russian border control officer to another was bittersweet. They meant that I would be permitted to drive my rental car through the Salla border crossing from Finland to Russia to meet my colleagues in Apatity for my fifth and final summer of fieldwork in the Imandra Lake region. After five years of fieldwork on the Kola Peninsula, and two years of archival research in Finland and Sweden, our project to reconstruct western Kola Saami herding villages was coming to an end. The fieldwork was challenging but rewarding, leading to results that documented significant changes in western Kola Saami herding villages.
Despite the breakdown of relations between Russia and the seven other Arctic states, there is still limited room to restore cooperation today – primarily between non-state actors. As the Arctic faces a climate emergency that threatens the whole world, cooperation in research to understand the dramatic changes unfolding in the region, in environmental protection, and in joint climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts remain imperative for all involved.
In the context of the pause of the Arctic Council (AC), cooperation between non-state actors may be the most important form of cooperation now. Science and citizen diplomacy remain important. Researchers, Indigenous peoples, non-governmental organizations, and civil societies may be able to influence states to reignite intergovernmental cooperation as such nonstate actors and non-aligned states pressured the superpowers during the Cold War to converge on issues of common interest – especially around climate change and environmental protection. The Cold War holds many lessons for the contemporary situation and thinking about restoring cooperation in the midst of steep political tensions.
P. Whitney Lackenbauer & Rasmus Leander Nielsen
I cannot imagine many purposes for which Hans Island, or Tartupaluk in Greenlandic, would be useful for a government at all. It is extremely remote, provides no shelter, no decent landing for any vessels, no oil or gas reserves are known to hide in its vicinity, no mineral deposits in its core, it is ice-encapsulated and dangerously windswept most of the year. Perhaps in a distant ice-free future a bit of very high-Arctic traffic might pass by, but it would still most likely have no reason to dwell here.
But, of course, as a political phenomenon Hans Island is extremely provoking. It bears testimony to just how easily even the lowliest, most desolate piece of no-good territory may still excite otherwise friendly, democratic, NATO-embedded nations and make them unable to reach any semblance of an agreement even after 45 years of negotiations.
Danish journalist Martin Breum, May 20181
This agreement is a significant historic milestone in the relationship between friends and neighbours and is the culmination of years of discussions. The efforts deployed to reach this outcome demonstrate their leadership in the region and commitment to resolve disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law.
The land boundary on Tartupaluk reflects the strong historic and cultural relations between communities in Canada and Greenland. It paves the way for stronger cooperation and the establishment of an even closer partnership between them.
Global Affairs Canada News Release, June 20222
Eda Ayaydın & Griffith Couser
Calotte Academy is an unusual event in Arctic research, and one which boasts the distinction of being the longest-running traveling Arctic symposium. Researchers – often, but by no means exclusively PhD students – crowd onto a bus and are taken through the Arctic itself. Developing this sense of place and bringing together subject and researchers is a central pillar of the Academy. Another is the diversity of the participants. Anyone studying Arctic issues is welcome, and thus the list of countries of origin is often nearly as long as the participant list itself. But what makes the Calotte Academy truly unique is the dedication to discussion. Dialogue is woven into every presentation, and both participants and guest lecturers are required to allow time for questions, to engage in dialogue, and to allow their ideas to be challenged. Finally, ‘helicopter research’ is very much discouraged, and participants are put face to face with community members to discuss local issues, keeping them grounded in the places that they are studying. Putting these themes together, 2022 followed the tradition of the Calotte Academy stretching back to its founding in 1991.