Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Unstated Assumptions Color Arctic Sovereignty Claims

Date:
May 31, 2009
Source:
Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Summary:
Settling the growing debate over ownership of Arctic Ocean resources is complicated by the fact that the various countries involved have different understandings of the geography of the place, one researcher argues.

Settling the growing debate over ownership of Arctic Ocean resources is complicated by the fact that the various countries involved have different understandings of the geography of the place.

Phil Steinberg, an associate professor in the Department of Geography at Florida State University in Tallahassee, says coming to terms with those divergent views is the first necessary step to resolving what is becoming a prickly international issue as global warming opens up more of the Arctic Ocean.

In a presentation at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences taking place at Ottawa's Carleton University, Dr. Steinberg says that people make unstated assumptions about geography when they talk about places. In the case of the Arctic Ocean, there are two opposing concepts: Is the Arctic Ocean just water that you pass over, or is it land with water on top of it – land that belongs to a country?

He says that when countries such as Russia talk of resource extraction, they are thinking of the Arctic as land with water on top of it. Canada makes the same assumption when it talks of the Northwest Passage as belonging to Canada. The U.S., however, views the Northwest Passage as just water – water that people pass over to travel from one place to another.

"In the U.S. national imaginary, I don't think there's the idea that the space up there is divided into territories that belong to anybody," says Dr. Steinberg. He adds that some of those assumptions are built right into our maps.

Look at a map of the world, says Dr. Steinberg: Land areas are divided into countries, each in a different colour. That reinforces the idea of ownership. But on a map the sea is a coloured a uniform blue – a graphic representation of the oceans being freely accessible to all.

The same idea applies to Antarctica, which is generally coloured white on maps and not marked by firm territorial divisions. In the Arctic, there is one further complicating factor: When the ocean is covered by ice, it can be walked on and to some extent used like land; but when the ice melts, the Arctic is water.

"In trying to understand the debate, it's always helpful to understand the implicit references each side is making," says Dr. Steinberg. "Often, the disagreements are over unspoken assumptions.

"In the case of the Northwest Passage, a whole lot of what is going on from the U.S. side is fear of setting a precedent.

"Small issues become big issues when states become fearful of setting precedents."

Organized by the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Congress 2009 brings together over 8,000 researchers from Canada and around the world.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. "Unstated Assumptions Color Arctic Sovereignty Claims." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090528135248.htm>.
Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. (2009, May 31). Unstated Assumptions Color Arctic Sovereignty Claims. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090528135248.htm
Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. "Unstated Assumptions Color Arctic Sovereignty Claims." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090528135248.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) British researchers were able to use Mount Everest's low altitudes to study insulin resistance. They hope to find ways to treat diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Walking, Talking Oil-Drigging Rig

The Walking, Talking Oil-Drigging Rig

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 15, 2014) Pennsylvania-based Schramm is incorporating modern technology in its next generation oil-drigging rigs, making them smaller, safer and smarter. Ernest Scheyder reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

AFP (Apr. 14, 2014) To curb the growing numbers of feral cats in the US capital, the Washington Humane Society is encouraging residents to set traps and bring the animals to a sterilization clinic, after which they are released.. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dutch Highway Introduces Glow-In-The-Dark Paint

Dutch Highway Introduces Glow-In-The-Dark Paint

Newsy (Apr. 14, 2014) A Dutch highway has become the first lit by glow-in-the-dark paint — a project aimed at reducing street light use. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins