Discourses of Contest and Collaboration in the Arctic

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In 2014 and 2015 two Arctic states – the Kingdom of Denmark together with Greenland and Russian Federation - have subsequently submitted to the United Nations Convention territorial claims to a part of the Arctic continental shelf. The Russian claim of 2015 was a revised submission of the earlier claim (2011) which had been reviewed by The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. While both Danish-Greenlandic and Russian claims were submitted strictly in accordance with the established agreements and practices of international collaboration in the Arctic region and based on the scientific research and evidence, a number of media, political and scholarly commentaries have emphasised the claims as a potential source of controversy. These commentaries, made both in anticipation and in the aftermath of the submissions, draw attention to their competing character with regard to the overlapping parts of the ocean floor and North Pole included in the Danish-Greenlandic (2014) and Russian (2015) claims.
Drawing on the analytical framework offered by Critical Discourse Analysis and Multimodal Discourse Analysis, this paper examines representations of the aforementioned claims in media, such as Danish newspaper Berlinske and Greenland’s news publication The Arctic Journal, in social media, such as the comments on the Berlinske facebook page, in political communication, such as the press releases by the Danish Ministry of Foreign affairs, the official submission document by the Governments of the Kingdom of Denmark together with Greenland and the speech by the Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs at the Arctic Frontiers Conference. The analysis demonstrates the tension between the discourse of scientific and political international collaboration and the language of contest and conflict, which these representations make visible.
Through the analysis, the paper aims to discuss the role of discourse in the construction of the current territorial negotiations in the Arctic region and of the intertwined with them issues of international diplomacy, national security, environment, etc. across diverse interactional and institutional contexts and practices (media, political and social). With this discussion, I hope to bring critical attention to the shift from the language of collaboration to the language of contestation enabled by the circulation of the examined multimodal discursive representations and to the pre-figurative ability of discourse with regards to the future of international relations in the Arctic.
TidsskriftArctic Yearbook
StatusUnder udarbejdelse - 2020

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