Arctic Cartography: Making space and Claiming Sovereignty through the Danish Continental Shelf project

Publikation: AndetUdgivelser på nettet - Net-publikationForskning

This thesis examines how The Danish Continental Shelf Project has laid claim to an extended continental shelf
comprising 895,541 km2 of Arctic seabed and subsoil. Specifically, the thesis tries to understand how
Denmark-Greenland’s expansion in the Central Arctic Ocean is made possible and how Denmark-Greenland
‘knows’ where to draw this territorial boundary. Jeppe Strandsbjerg’s (2010) Territory , Globalization and
International Relations is employed as a theoretical lens through which the research purpose can be
investigated. The theoretical framework is based on the argument that we live in a “cartographic reality of
space” (2010, p. 4) and it theorizes the role of cartography in producing autonomous space, through which
territory and sovereign rights can be claimed. Strandsbjerg’s theory draws on Bruno Latour’s science studies,
and therefore puts emphasis on the role of so-called non-humans in creating ‘reality’. This framework
highlights the role of the Continental Shelf Project in creating a cartographic reality of space, where borders
can be drawn, and territory divided. Simultaneously, the employment of the theory also brings to light how
the creation of oceanic cartographic spaces cannot be directly compared to cartographic space created on
the basis of landmass. The thesis also provides a thorough introduction to the legal framework, which shapes
the existence of the Continental Shelf Project, namely the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
(UNCLOS), in particular its article 76. The empirical basis of the investigation is interview data, produced
through ten semi-structured depth interviews. The interviews were conducted with participation from
central actors in the project, the majority of whom are scientists. The interviews have been transcribed and
coded. The resulting analysis brings insights on the process of claiming an extended continental shelf, the
role of national interest in map-making and the specific reality created in and through the claim north of
Greenland. The thesis thus argues that we do live in a cartographic reality of space, as claimed by
Strandsbjerg, but adds nuance to this assertion: In the process of creating Arctic cartographic space nonhumans are assigned a prominent role yet are also squeezed into certain shapes to fit political wishes of a
maximized claim to an extended continental shelf.
Publikationsdatookt. 2019
Antal sider69
StatusUdgivet - okt. 2019

ID: 247071135