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Industrial extraction of Arctic natural resources since the sixteenth century: technoscience and geo-economics in the history of northern whaling and mining
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6461-7734
2014 (English)In: Journal of Historical Geography, ISSN 0305-7488, E-ISSN 1095-8614, Vol. 44, 15-30 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A comparative perspective is applied in analyzing the large-scale utilization of Arctic natural resources driven by economies and agents outside the Arctic and subarctic regions. This paper focuses on whaling since the sixteenth century, and on the development of mining from the nineteenth century to the present. The European sector of the Arctic and subarctic regions including the high-Arctic archipelago of Spitsbergen provides the main cases for this study. The social, economic and environmental contexts and consequences of northern industry are considered; as part of this line of research, the little-known symbolic and geopolitical uses of industrial field installations are considered. The northern transfer of Western technoscience, including scientific navigation, colonial geography, steam-propulsion and aviation, often failed initially despite much enthusiasm and underwent painstaking on-site modification. In this industrialists and other Arctic entrepreneurs attempted to control a complex combination of factors including the sparse local population, the lack of major infrastructure, and the environmental impact of their own businesses. This combined with the social problems of keeping peace among collaborators and competitors under isolated and lawless conditions. In conclusion, the greatest challenges to industry in the Arctic throughout modern history were local and social rather than climatic or geopolitical. Indigenous interests were long disregarded while Arctic seas and some land areas were exploited by Western nations as unregulated commons. Not only nature and local inhabitants but also the industry itself suffered from increased scales of operations. The record of Arctic extractive industries over four hundred years reveals a need to develop and share relevant environmental and socio-economic knowledge and to develop international regulations and instruments such as industry certification to guarantee sustainable northern resource utilization.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Academic Press, 2014. Vol. 44, 15-30 p.
Keyword [en]
Arctic, Science, History, Industry, Whaling, Mining, Sustainability, Territorial claims, Architectural symbolism, Management of commons
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URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-147749DOI: 10.1016/j.jhg.2014.01.001ISI: 000337009600002ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84901261469OAI: diva2:732440

QC 20140704

Available from: 2014-07-04 Created: 2014-07-03 Last updated: 2016-02-25Bibliographically approved

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