Power positions
Theorising Arctic hierarchies
in Arctic governance

Chapter 3 suggests hierarchy as a useful analytic for understanding Arctic governance, as it acknowledges the presence of leading actors, while explicitly directing attention to many other important, flexible and dynamic roles within a policy field. After reviewing and taking cues from the literature on hierarchies in international-relations scholarship, ‘circumpolar-wide’ expressions of hierarchy are analysed, including the leading ‘club status’ of Arctic Council member states vis-à-vis the rest of the world. Chapter 3 argues that Russia and the USA can be best understood as ‘resting great powers’ in cooperative Arctic governance. They structure only in broad strokes the room for manoeuvre in the region at key junctures, but their preferences (articulated or guessed at) are difficult to ignore because of their regional and global prominence. Secondly, the chapter examines more transactional approaches to hierarchy: how certain positions may provide certain privileges (and responsibilities), using Norway’s Arctic leadership efforts as an example. Finally, turning away from states and towards people-to-people relations, we examine two projects concerning transition and change in the Russian Arctic undertakein during the 1990s and early 2000s, arguing hierarchical assumptions about students and teachers were intrinsic to these projects – and protested by the target audiences in northern Russia.

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Arctic governance

Power in cross-border Cooperation

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