Public and National Imagination of the Arctic
This chapter examines how the Arctic has acted as a source of inspiration and how this plays into larger political challenges of the region today. The long history of southern perceptions and engagement with the Arctic is mainly a catalogue of fantastic thinking and fraught endeavor. Unprecedented climate change, technology, geopolitics, and global markets have conspired to a decade of renewed fascination with the Arctic. But our knowledge of its space, environmental conditions, ecology, and human culture remains inchoate. To a large extent, the USA and Canada have—like their circum-Arctic neighbor, Russia—inherited particular orientations toward the Arctic. Today, new threats emerge to Arctic ecology and the peoples of the circum-Arctic, and sovereignty disputes with Russia and others excite anxiety of renewed geopolitical conflict.