Series:

Sara Nyhlén, Katarina Giritli Nygren, Anna Olofsson and Johanna Bergström

Abstract

Although four million people live and work in the Arctic, it has become a ‘new’ place to discover and secure for the nation-states and companies that want to explore how to exploit newly available resources and territory as the ice melts. We have witnessed an increase in policies regarding the Arctic from many European and other countries throughout the last decade or more. Sweden became the last of the so-called Arctic states to launch a policy for the Arctic in 2011, and this chapter analyses this policy from a critical perspective. A seemingly ‘neutral’ language may characterize policies, but deriving from a feminist intersectional risk analysis, we argue that policy analysis is a key task for understanding contemporary power structures. By identifying enabling discourses, mobilizing metaphors and underlying assumptions, this analysis shows how Sweden’s policy produces normative constructions of environmental risks anchored in time- and context-dependent beliefs. The strategy adapts to and uses the dominant discourses about the Arctic; it puts risks such as climate change, energy shortage, and human and societal security in the centre while simultaneously positioning Sweden as having the best solutions for managing these risks in a sustainable way. The notion of security drifts towards risk management through arguments about developing and applying sustainable practices, and the strategy uses a language that echoes the language used in stories about conquests and colonial exploration of the Arctic written centuries ago.