Research Project at the Centre
From Arctic Exceptionalism to Global Arctic: Exploring Pathways of Cooperation in Circumpolar Arctic Governance
With sea ice thinning and new possibilities for trade routes opening up, the Arctic is undergoing sustained changes, fuelling neo-realist visions of conflict and future competition over resources among Arctic and non-Arctic states. Despite these nightmarish imaginaries, Arctic governance continues to be largely cooperative rather than conflictual. In fact, it is considered a laboratory for studying global governance processes that are characterised by a plurality of stakeholders. Hence, the newly emerging narrative of the 'Global Arctic' is gaining ever more traction. Yet, how is this possible in light of this increasingly contested governance space?
To solve this puzzle, the project zooms in on the Arctic Council as the primary intergovernmental policy forum that structures Circumpolar Governance and identifies those processes and mechanisms that bring about cooperation rather than conflict in the Arctic Council. Through the lens of practice theory and critical border studies, it proposes that the Arctic Council fosters sustainable governance pathways through the ‘boundary work’ practiced by its multiple epistemic communities. As a ‘boundary organisation’, then, it has the ability to translate between multiple social worlds, and thus to span the boundaries of different knowledge regimes that range from state-centric forms of knowledge production over Western-centric scientific expertise to more traditional indigenous forms of knowledge. Over time, said boundary work of the Arctic Council’s diverse epistemic communities brings about regimes of mutual accountability and organising principles that are vital for solving potential disputes peacefully and cooperatively – rather than through confrontation and (threats of) military build-up. The focus on the Arctic Council’s boundary work promises to provide new insights into how global governance institutions can develop sustainable pathways of global cooperation in the face of increasingly pluralistic policy settings.
Hofius, Maren (2020). Towards a ‘Theory of the Gap’: Addressing the Relationship between Practice and Theory. Global Constitutionalism, 9(1), 169-182. DOI: doi.org/10.1017/S2045381719000431
Hofius, Maren (2016). Community at the border or the boundaries of community? The case of EU field diplomats. Review of International Studies, 42(5), 939-967. DOI: doi.org/10.1017/S0260210516000085
Hofius, Maren; Wilkens, Jan; Hansen-Magnusson, Hannes; Gholiagha, Sassan (2014). Den Schleier lichten? Kritische Normenforschung, Freiheit und Gleichberechtigung im Kontext des 'Arabischen Frühlings'. Eine Replik auf Engelkamp/Glaab/Renner, Ulbert und Deitelhoff/Zimmermann. Zeitschrift für Internationale Beziehungen, 2, 85-105. DOI: doi.org/10.5771/0946-7165-2014-2-85