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Bielefeld Graduate School

in History and Sociology

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Logo der Einrichtung

Dorothea Wehrmann


E-Mail: Dorothea.Wehrmann@die-gdi.de

Web: http://www.die-gdi.de/dorothea-wehrmann/

Polar Entanglements? (Critical) Geopolitics of the Changing Polar Regions in Inter-American Perspective

The Arctic and the Antarctic are increasingly understood as "barometers" indicating the global impacts of human activities because of the visibility and scope of rapidly proceeding environmental changes in both Polar Regions. Estimations on the existence of raw materials in both regions further invigorated projections of future inter-state conflicts on territorial rights in the Arctic and the Antarctic that are also entangled with different representations of environmental concerns. Against this backdrop and over a period of 25+ years, my dissertation maps and analyses the different actors involved in the politics of the Polar Regions, their say and positions and thereby provides answers to the question why similar patterns of interpretation have become dominant in the politics of both Polar Regions. It focuses particularly on (dis-) entanglements in the politics of the Polar Regions to illustrate how ordering principles evolved and operate that ultimately affect and guide policy making and governance structures. The polar entanglements identified in the thesis (among actors, discourses and representations) and the analysis of the contexts in which these entanglements are embedded explain past and recent dynamics in political processes that concern the Polar Regions and thus contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of processes that shape the politics of the Polar Regions. In pushing particularly against scholarly analyses saying that the politics of the Arctic and of the Antarctic are not influenced by processes in the respective other Polar Region, the analysis builds on the relational understanding shaped by the sociologist Mustafa Emirbayer (1997) when arguing that no actor, no discourse, no event is considered as operating, dominating, occurring in isolation but as being determined by contexts, which is why the interplay of these three is investigated in the proposed book. When considering the numerous entanglements, for instance, it comes into light that although the Arctic Council and the Antarctic Treaty System were formed to address different purposes at different times and in different global settings, both evolved and diversified similarly since their establishment: The number of actors involved expanded at times when global interests in the regions grew, when the legitimacy of both governance settings was challenged, and when resource development and environmental conservation were increasingly discussed. With that in mind, my dissertation carves out the different understandings introduced in (practical, formal and popular geopolitical) discourses that concern the inclusion of non-state actors in polar-policy making and provides an overview of the controversial chances and risks ascribed also to other strategies that are promoted in discourses on the changing Polar Regions to cope with arising challenges. In focusing on these actor and discourse dynamics, the thesis also identifies paradoxes on the national and sub-national levels that help to explain the internal logics, for instance, of the Arctic policies adopted by the U.S. and Canada. Related thereto, the study further shows how ideas and representations transcend the domestic and international spheres, in what cases a transfer of knowledge and positions has been encouraged and in what regards it has not.




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