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Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Publication details for Professor Philip Steinberg

Gerhardt, Hannes, Steinberg, Philip E., Tasch, Jeremy, Fabiano, Sandra J. & Shields, Rob Contested Sovereignty in a Changing Arctic. Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 2010;100:992-1002.

Author(s) from Durham


Climate change is challenging the notions of permanency and stability on which the ideal of the sovereign, territorial state historically has rested. Nowhere is this challenge more pressing than in the Arctic. As states expand their sovereignty claims northward in pursuit of potential opportunities (in many cases made possible by climate change), these same states are being confronted with the region’s increasing territorial indeterminacy (which also is exacerbated by climate change). To investigate how climate change is challenging the territorial imaginaries around which notions of sovereignty historically have been based, we turn to three debates in the contemporary Arctic: the question of sovereignty in the Northwest Passage, conflicts over territorial control in the Arctic Ocean, and the potential for enhanced multilateral governance. Through our study of these debates we engage the Arctic both as a region that is undergoing climate change’s most extreme impacts and as a laboratory for understanding how these and similar impacts might modify the spatial organization of political authority across the world.


Special Issue: Climate Change