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The Northward Course of the Anthropocene: Transformation, Temporality and Telecoupling in a Time of Environmental Crisis
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment. CRISMART at the Swedish Defence University, Stockholm, Sweden.
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The Arctic—warming at twice the rate of the rest of the planet—is a source of striking imagery of amplified environmental change in our time, and has come to serve as a spatial setting for climate crisis discourse. The recent alterations in the Arctic environment have also been perceived by some observers as an opportunity to expand economic exploitation. Heightened geopolitical interest in the region and its resources, contradicted by calls for the protection of fragile Far North ecosystems, has rendered the Arctic an arena for negotiating human interactions with nature, and for reflecting upon the planetary risks and possibilities associated with the advent and expansion of the Anthropocene—the proposed new epoch in Earth history in which humankind is said to have gained geological agency and become the dominant force over the Earth system. With the Arctic serving as a nexus of crosscutting analytical themes spanning contemporary history (the late twentieth and the early twenty-first century until 2015), this dissertation examines defining characteristics of the Anthropocene and how the concept, which emerged from the Earth system science community, impacts ideas and assumptions in historiography, social sciences and the environmental humanities, including the fields of environmental history, crisis management and security studies, political geography, and science and technology studies (STS). The primary areas of empirical analysis and theoretical investigation encompass constructivist perspectives and temporal conceptions of environmental and climate crisis; the role of science and expertise in performing politics and shaping social discourse; the geopolitical significance of telecoupling—a concept that reflects the interconnectedness of the Anthropocene and supports stakeholder claims across wide spatial scales; and implications of the recent transformation in humankind’s long duration relationship with the natural world. Several dissertation themes were observed in practice at the international science community of Ny-Ålesund on Svalbard, where global change is made visible through a concentration of scientific activity. Ny-Ålesund is furthermore a place of geopolitics, where extra-regional states attempt to enhance their legitimacy as Arctic stakeholders through the performance of scientific research undertakings, participation in governance institutions, and by establishing a physical presence in the Far North. This dissertation concludes that this small and remote community represents an Anthropocene node of global environmental change, Earth system science, emergent global governance, geopolitics, and stakeholder construction in an increasingly telecoupled world.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2016. , 62 p.
Series
TRITA-HOT, ISSN 0349-2842 ; 2071
Series
CRISMART, 45
Keyword [en]
Anthropocene, Arctic, Fernand Braudel, environmental and climate crisis, environmental history, expertise, polar geopolitics, securitization, Svalbard, telecoupling
National Category
History and Archaeology
Research subject
History of Science, Technology and Environment
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-179139ISBN: 978-91-7595-809-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-179139DiVA: diva2:881415
Public defence
2016-01-22, V1, Teknikringen 76, KTH, Stockholm, 14:40 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20151211

Available from: 2015-12-11 Created: 2015-12-10 Last updated: 2015-12-11Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. The Socio-Scientific Construction of Global Climate Crisis
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Socio-Scientific Construction of Global Climate Crisis
2012 (English)Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
National Category
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-111793 (URN)
Conference
International Studies Association 2012 Annual Convention
Note

QC 20130114

Available from: 2013-01-14 Created: 2013-01-14 Last updated: 2015-12-11Bibliographically approved
2. The Telecoupled Arctic
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Telecoupled Arctic
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
History
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-179152 (URN)
Note

QS 2015

Available from: 2015-12-11 Created: 2015-12-11 Last updated: 2015-12-11Bibliographically approved
3. Science as National Belonging: the Construction of Svalbard as a Norwegian Space
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Science as National Belonging: the Construction of Svalbard as a Norwegian Space
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This paper examines how science has been employed to establish, maintain, and contest senses of belonging on Svalbard, an Arctic archipelago administered by Norway since 1925 under an international treaty. The central argument is that the process of constructing Svalbard as a space belonging to Norway has long been intertwined with the processes of describing and representing the archipelago, and that participating in those processes has also permitted other states to articulate their own narratives of belonging— on Svalbard in particular and in the Arctic more generally. The concept of belonging is deployed to capture a sense of legitimate presence and stakeholdership that we do not believe can be adequately captured by the narrow concept of sovereignty. The article explores Norway’s historic and current use of science to validate (and even naturalize) its rule over Svalbard. At the same time, we argue that other states use science on Svalbard to articulate geopolitical scripts that portray them as stakeholders in an Arctic that is of trans-regional relevance due to the teleconnected effects of climate change.

 

Keyword
Arctic, history of science, Ny-Ålesund, polar geopolitics, research stations, scripting, Svalbard
National Category
History of Ideas
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-179151 (URN)
Note

QC 20151211

Available from: 2015-12-11 Created: 2015-12-11 Last updated: 2015-12-11Bibliographically approved
4. Institutional and political leadership dimensions of cascading ecological crises
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Institutional and political leadership dimensions of cascading ecological crises
Show others...
2011 (English)In: Public Administration, ISSN 0033-3298, E-ISSN 1467-9299, Vol. 89, no 2, 361-380 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

While some of the future impacts of global environmental change such as some aspects of climate change can be projected and prepared for in advance, other effects are likely to surface as surprises - that is situations in which the behaviour in a system, or across systems, differs qualitatively from expectations. Here we analyse a set of institutional and political leadership challenges posed by 'cascading' ecological crises: abrupt ecological changes that propagate into societal crises that move through systems and spatial scales. We illustrate their underlying social and ecological drivers, and a range of institutional and political leadership challenges, which have been insufficiently elaborated by either crisis management researchers or institutional scholars. We conclude that even though these sorts of crises have parallels to other contingencies, there are a number of major differences resulting from the combination of a lack of early warnings, abrupt ecological change, and the mismatch between decision-making capabilities and the cross-scale dynamics of social-ecological change.

National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-179150 (URN)10.1111/j.1467-9299.2010.01883.x (DOI)000292101100009 ()2-s2.0-79959573457 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20151211

Available from: 2015-12-11 Created: 2015-12-11 Last updated: 2017-12-01Bibliographically approved
5. Not a proper crisis
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Not a proper crisis
2015 (English)In: The Anthropocene Review, ISSN 2053-0196, E-ISSN 2053-020X, Vol. 2, no 3, 247-261 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article examines and qualifies the proposition that humankind’s recently acquired geological agency has brought about the convergence of Earth and human history. Contrasting a contemporary representation of human–nature interactions – the ‘Great Acceleration graphs’ documenting humanity’s post-war dominance – with an earlier perspective elaborated by Fernand Braudel, whose historical philosophy assigned physical geography powerful agency over human affairs, this article contends that ‘environmental crisis’ is a valid characterization of the post-1950 reordering of human–nature relations. Yet it is not a ‘proper’ crisis, as the environmental and climate crisis cannot be managed as a discrete event – as crises are often thought of today – in hope of restoring the status quo ante. Drawing on an older connotation of crisis, this article proposes a temporal conceptualization of environmental crisis, signifying a multi-decade historical period of reordering that spans the decline of the Holocene and advent of the Anthropocene. The intended and unintended consequences of human decisions will determine whether convergence, through reflexivity or coercion, results from this ongoing epochal transition.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Saga Publication, 2015
National Category
History of Ideas
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-179149 (URN)10.1177/2053019615604867 (DOI)2-s2.0-85006207087 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20151211

Available from: 2015-12-11 Created: 2015-12-11 Last updated: 2017-12-01Bibliographically approved

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