Rikke Østergaard & Javier L. Arnaut

This article examines the conceptualization of nation-building in Greenland, challenging conventional views on sovereignty and suggesting an imminent emergence of an alternate governance model in the Arctic region. Drawing on the decoloniality perspective, we explore the Inuit myth, which suggests a unique connection of the Inuit to the Arctic environment and asserts their status as natural stewards of the region with special rights based on their cultural and political identity. We argue that this understanding of sovereignty has important implications not only for its departure from conventional Western notions of state formation but also for its potential to create alternative governance structures that do not reinforce existing political hegemonies from the “West”. We further analyze how the legacy of colonialism in Greenland has impacted power and gender relations in the region and has fueled a distinctive sense of nationalism that differs from those seen in the West. The article discusses how the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) is playing a major role in promoting an alternative political legitimacy model against the conventional approach of nation-building. We note that the ICC depends on the maintenance of political myths which have evolved over time. We conclude by suggesting that conventional perspectives on state formation must be revised to incorporate the historical experiences and knowledge of Indigenous peoples, and that further exploration of alternative governance structures is needed.

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