University of Oulu

Vesa Väätänen, The construction, solidification and political implications of geographical scientific facts: A perspective on the ‘changing’ Arctic region, Geoforum, Volume 128, 2022, Pages 21-32, ISSN 0016-7185,

The construction, solidification and political implications of geographical scientific facts : a perspective on the ‘changing’ Arctic region

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Author: Väätänen, Vesa1
Organizations: 1Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 3000, FI-90014, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 5.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-12-03


In this paper I unpack the now taken-for-granted understanding of the Arctic as a changing region. Instead of taking ‘change’ as an objectively discoverable phenomenon taking place within the region, I argue that a more elaborate understanding regarding the heated discussion on the Arctic during the past few decades can be achieved by deconstructing how change itself emerged to define the region. I utilize this perspective, which mainly draws on Actor-Network Theory (ANT) and constructionist conceptualization of regions, to underscore how and why knowledge that first attached change to the Arctic was constructed in scientific practices and how the notion of a changing Arctic solidified as a taken-for-granted fact. I analyze the process through which this solidification has taken place by looking into how a variety of actors embraced this knowledge and incorporated it into their agency. I suggest that by scrutinizing the dynamics that have contributed to the process of the Arctic region we can better understand the practical political difference that scientific knowledge on the Arctic makes. This highlights the political dimension of the construction of geographical scientific facts. Concurrently, my aim is to contribute to our understanding of regionalization processes by foregrounding the relevance of scientific practices in the social construction and transformation of regions. As a conclusion, I call on those involved in producing geographical scientific knowledge in general, and especially on the Arctic, to become more aware of the potentially far-reaching consequences that research in natural – but also social – sciences can have.

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Series: Geoforum
ISSN: 0016-7185
ISSN-E: 1872-9398
ISSN-L: 0016-7185
Volume: 128
Pages: 21 - 32
DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2021.11.019
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 519 Social and economic geography
Copyright information: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (