Arctic identity interactions: Reconfiguring dependency in Greenland’s and Denmark’s foreign policies

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch


  • Marc Jacobsen
This PhD dissertation investigates how Greenland’s and Denmark’s foreign policy identities interact in the light of the renewed global geopolitical attention towards the Arctic. A development, which is used to enhance their common and distinct positions in international politics, where their roles as key Arctic actors offer opportunities to have more frequent, direct interactions with the world’s most powerful state leaders. Something which is not common for a small state like Denmark and even rarer for a self-governing territory such as Greenland.

Whereas the Arctic is discursively highlighted in foreign policy identities of the two countries, it is so to quite different extends: In Greenland, it is ubiquitous and inevitable to the prevailing collective identity representation as well as in paradiplomatic relations to the outside world. In Denmark, the status as an Arctic state is conditioned upon Greenland’s geographic location and continuous membership of the Danish Realm. This difference reconfigures the dependency between the former colony and colonizer: It gives Greenland representatives an ‘Arctic advantage’ in the postcolonial negotiations, as to remain an Arctic state, Denmark must maintain the Danish Realm. This advantage is used to enhance Greenland’s foreign policy autonomy and to alter the relationship towards one of more equality. At the same time, the Government of Greenland welcomes the increased international Arctic attention as an opportunity to diversify dependency beyond Denmark, hence reducing the relevance of the Danish Realm and enhancing Greenland’s agency in international politics.

How Greenland’s and Denmark’s foreign policy representatives (inter)act - together and separately - in discursive Arctic contexts is examined through five different articles. These focus on discourse and praxis within the Arctic Council, circumpolar conferences and concrete tri- and bilateral relations, but also how e.g. proposed mining projects and questions of sustainability activate postcolonial nuances about who has the ultimate right to decide. As such, all the articles contribute to a better understanding of Greenland’s and Denmark’s Arctic affairs, while some of them are also part of other academic advancements contributing with new theoretically informed perspectives on circumpolar security developments and new understandings of how the concept of sustainability is used politically in the Arctic.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationKøbenhavn
Number of pages269
ISBN (Electronic)9788772093123
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2019

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Social Sciences - Greenland, Denmark, Arctic, Identity, Discourse, Foreign Policy Analysis, Paradiplomacy, Postcolonialism, International Relations, International Politics, Copenhagen School, Sovereignty, Sovereignty Games, Geopolitics, Praxis, Securitization, Security, Diplomacy, sustainability

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