Oil, Cables, Indigeneity

The Barents region may be geographically remote, but it is intimately and uncannily connected to developments in the ‘centres’ of the world. Here, global warming has visible effects. It is the main motor behind economic speculation in the Barents. The oil and gas reserves in the Barents Sea are becoming ever more valuable, their exploitation more feasible. The North–East passage, impassable until recently, is open for trade. But ecologists regard the Arctic as pristine nature that should be preserved. Indigenous ways of life seem difficult to sustain, but they sometimes offer radically different perspectives. This ‘arena’ where differing interests clash and have to negotiate, is the topic of the panel ‘Oil, Cables, Indigeneity’. Berit Kristoffersen will draw two perspectives from her PhD research ‘Drilling Oil into Arctic Minds’: How to understand the oil industry’s and national approaches to oil exploitation as ‘opportunistic’ climate politics; and secondly, how the strategy of moving oil development northwards finds little resonance with people in Lofoten as their perspective becomes ‘post-petroleum’. Designer/researcher Femke Herregraven will talk about her commissioned research project Staring into the Ice, which examines how climate change opens up new investment opportunities and trading routes for financial markets. The melting Arctic ice will make it possible to lay submarine cables on the Arctic seabed, which supposedly will substantially increase the speed of transactions between financial centres in Europe and Asia. Femke Herregraven pinpoints the construction of these submarine cables and their political, infrastructural and ecological consequences.

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