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Thesis (Master's)

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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/41946

  • The Polar Mediterranean : past, present, and future of a social imaginary
  • Master's
  • The Arctic is a vast and sparsely populated region with a unique biodiversity,
    a rich geography, and a variety of local cultures. In historical terms, it is also a
    relatively newly-discovered territory, as far as Western and Southern societies
    are concerned. Its remoteness and inaccessibility have largely contributed to a
    prolonged lack of information regarding the region, making the Arctic an
    enigmatic place for a very long time. Thus, southern social imaginaries have
    typically conceived of the North as a frozen and inhospitable area, depriving it
    of much interest.
    However, during the first part of the 20th century, the anthropologist and
    explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson unveiled many mysteries about the Arctic.
    Throughout his life and writings, he tried to modify at least as many inaccurate
    and now old-fashioned imaginings and imaginaries about the Arctic. A
    promoter of the North, he highlighted the potential and opportunities of this
    region, based on his empirical studies, personal experiences and extensive
    interactions with Native populations. Furthermore, Stefansson suggested that,
    in the upcoming future, the Arctic region could be seen as a place similar to
    the Mediterranean region: an important socio-cultural, economic and political
    The concept of the Polar Mediterranean Imaginary was thus proposed by him
    over a century ago, in 1920, and intended to give the Arctic a central role, due
    to its geostrategic location, which bridges the Atlantic with the Pacific Ocean
    and connect three continents (Asia, America, and Europe). Notwithstanding
    his research and advocacy, the solidification of any new imaginary requires
    time and an efficient communication network in order to encroach upon and
    supersede previous ones. Past and present events (e.g., global conflicts,
    scientific and technologic developments) contribute as well to determining
    how the Arctic is shaped and understood today. In particular, the contemporary
    trends of globalization and climate change are making the North more and
    more connected and interconnected, especially through the rise of transpolar
    routes, which represent an opportunity for the affirmation of the Arctic’s
    central role, along the lines envisioned by Vilhjalmur Stefansson and his Polar
    Mediterranean Imaginary one hundred years ago.

  • Jun 14, 2022
  • http://hdl.handle.net/1946/41946

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