Arctic images in Non-Arctic State Strategies: Visual Rhetoric as Territorial Holograms

Authors: Alexandra Middleton*, Oulu Business School
Topics: Polar Regions, Economic Geography
Keywords: Arctic, images, territorial hologram, volumetric
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 55
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Arctic geopolitical landscape has changed in the last ten years with more observers joining the Arctic Council. Non-Arctic states have been prolific in producing policy and strategy papers in which they identify their short- and long-term priorities and strategic plans in the Arctic. Research has extensively addressed the actual text of non-Arctic states' strategies by looking at the frequency of topics and themes mentioned in the strategy documents (Heininen et al. 2019).

The strategies of Non-Arctic countries contain Arctic imagery, photographs, and other visual representations that project these states' power representation of the Arctic. The Arctic visual images can be used for studying political technology of territory (Elden 2013). Arctic images serve as a territorial hologram (Weizman 2002) displaying the Arctic in a multi-dimensional volume.

Without having a physical presence in the Arctic, non-Arctic countries use Arctic imagery to gain legitimacy and project their geopolitical ambitions. I systematically study the visual rhetoric of non-Arctic states Arctic policy and strategy documents using visual rhetoric analysis methodology from Greenwood et al. (2018) combined with volumetric approach (Elden 2013). The data includes 14 documents from e.g. France China, Japan, South Korea, and the EU. Predominant visual representation of the Arctic conveys the idea of pristine and devoid of human life place and brings the politicized notion of government of the ice (Whitehead 2009) and uninhabited place. Results are important for the understanding of the global perception of the Arctic and provide avenues to meaningfully engage in diversifying the imagery of the Arctic.

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