chapter  7
Arctic Discourse Dominance
Pages 28

The previous chapters have illustrated that Arctic discourse is characterized by a specific complex of factors: natural and social relations to the environment. In chapter 2, it was shown that environmental definitions have been the basis for delineating the Arctic internationally: only in the time of region-building have political definitions become more prominent. The early understanding of “the Arctic” formed through exploration, which focused on the High Arctic and saw the Arctic and Antarctic as comparable areas. The primary view of the Arctic over time has been that of a purely environmental area, with social elements that have mainly been seen in terms of a relation to the environment. Overall, the social understanding has centered on the Arctic traditional indigenous peoples, a view on primary social inhabitants that derived from a focus on anthropology in polar research. These foci remained central, however, also in present cooperation in an extended Arctic. The principal issues in Arctic cooperation have been the environment and traditional indigenous rights (even to the point of setting these at odds with one another, as in the sustainable development conflict).