ASSW 2023 Science Symposium Keynote Lecture 1

21 February 2023 |11:00 - 12:30 (GMT+1)

Open Session - HYBRID


Room Audimax


ASSW 2023 Science Symposium Keynote Lecture 1:

One, Two or Many? - Conceptualizing the Arctic in 2023

Peter Schweitzer (University of Vienna / Austrian Polar Research Institute)

When the author of this presentation started to engage with Arctic issues, the northern world was divided along Cold War lines: there was the Soviet Arctic and the (politically) western Arctic. While natural scientists still could imagine environmental similarities across political boundaries, we social scientists – with very few exceptions – saw the political and ideological differences across this divide as an impediment to comparison. Things started to change in the 1990s and culminated large pan-Arctic research and publication efforts, such as the Arctic Human Development Report in 2004 to name just one example.

Russia’s ongoing attack on Ukraine, apart from causing tremendous human suffering and escalating geopolitical tensions, provides almost unsurmountable challenges to keeping up the notion of “one Arctic”. The presentation will focus on conceptual and methodological options of dealing with these new realities, by looking at structural similarities and differences in social and cultural livelihoods within the Arctic, as well as between Arctic and non-Arctic regions. By doing so, the author will neither provide a political analysis, nor will he speak in the name of IASC. Instead, this is an opportunity to explore how to best deal with the growing political, institutional and informational divides between the Russian and the “western” Arctic, and an invitation to re-conceptualize our understanding of the circumpolar North.