Rethinking Arctic Sovereignty: Carving out a Political Space for Indigenous Communities in Arctic and Global Governance

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 - 10:00AM
BSIA 1-43
67 Erb Street West, Waterloo , ON
Speakers: Dr. jessica m. shadian

The past decades have been witness to a changing landscape in the realm of global politics. Many International Relations theorists have shifted their focus from interstate cooperation which leads to formal treaties to global governance which recognises the myriad of non-state actors who also participate in the creation of new legal norms, best practices, hybrid, and other multilayered governance solutions. Yet, who is invited, to what extent non-state entities participate, and who decides is not always clearly defined or understood by global governance theorists or practitioners alike. In the Arctic, the ongoing debates over who owns the Arctic and who decides have become symbolic of these wider changes in global politics. In recent years the Arctic has become a political region of significant global importance. While much of this attention relates to an ice- free Arctic and the consequences of its accompanying resource developments, the political history and present day political significance of the Arctic’s indigenous peoples in its governance is not always recognised. Many people assume that in recent years a new race for the Arctic’s resources has begun, and this race is also something new for the indigenous peoples who live there. Moreover, many believe that they only have something to lose from the extraction and development of these resources. Yet, the history of the Arctic’s Inuit including the creation of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) has always been closely tied to the discovery and development of the Arctic’s resources. The political history of the Arctic’s Inuit (as a people) has helped to define, has adapted to, and eventually has helped to change the course of Westphalian politics. The central question that this presentation will focus on is how indigenous peoples have and can continue to find their political space in global and Arctic governance. This uncertainty is one that concerns both theory and practice in that it brings into question long held assumptions in international relations theory and international law about the role and power of the state and state sovereignty. 

About the speaker:
Dr. Jessica Shadian is an AIAS-Marie Curie COFUND Fellow and Associate Professor at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Aarhus University, Denmark and University of Lapland, Finland. During her AIAS Cofund Junior Fellowship, Associate Professor Jessica Shadian will be working on the project "Transnational Legal Spaces and the Arctic: Inuit community-based monitoring and regional Arctic resource governance – shall the twain meet?".

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