chapter  4
27 Pages

Decolonization: ‘the cold wind of change’

Self-determination movements are prominent in all five major Arctic states and, to a lesser extent, in Sweden and Finland also. These movements have long histories but, compared to other colonies and peripheral regionalist groupings elsewhere in the world, have proven to be more modest in aim and strategy. As outlined in the previous chapter, globalization has served to bring new threats to the livelihoods and culture of Arctic indigenous peoples and, as a result, kindled nationalist sentiments previously only very sporadically witnessed. Paradoxically, globalization has also served the cause of the High North’s original inhabitants by making the world more aware of them and giving them a platform to assert their identities and rights in a sophisticated manner in keeping with a changing world. This new ‘Cold Wind’ of formal and informal decolonization is thus more restrained than most of the nationalist movements that have shaped the political world over the last 200 years but may, nonetheless, prove to be among the most successful, in spite of occurring in the context of asymmetries of power beyond any previous self-determination struggles. Tiny unarmed movements have been able to extract significant autonomist concessions from some of the world’s most powerful states in a phenomenon that looks likely to continue in spite of (and, indeed, because of) the recent rise of metropolitan interest in their northern fringes.