The ‘supporting areas’ of Northern Sea Route as localities of contested authority

Theme 2. Connectivity
Session Name 2.7 Connect or separate? Social studies of the Northern Sea Route
Datetime Sep 07, 2018 01:35 PM - 01:55 PM (UTC +3)
Presentation Type Oral
Author(s) Kseniia Gavrilova (European university at St. Petersburg, Russian Federation)
Abstract text

To study Northern Sea Route (NSR) in a social perspective means to look at it not only as a sea traffic line, or a bunch of seamen navigating through the Arctic seas, but also as communities in those localities that NSR connects. Although within the research project «Harbors of Transarctic Route: Space and Societies of Russia’s Arctic Coast» we regard NSR as a passage through the Russian Arctic seas from Murmansk to Petropavlosk-Kamchatskii,  data collected in October – November 2017 shows that NSR should be examined in a broader social context that reveals interconnections with other transport infrastructures in the Arctic (such as winter roads or air traffic), or with specific territorial (industrial) zones that shape the major functions performed by NSR. In this presentation I discuss the case of Sabetta, one of the best-known supporting areas (opornye tochki) of NSR that is being constructed since 2012 in conjunction with the plant for production of Arctic Liquefied Natural Gas (Yamal SPG). Transportation of LNG through this seaport westward and eastward ties Yamal Peninsula to NSR area and simultaneously confirms the status of NSR as a sea line of high demand. I focus on the analysis of management, development and everyday control over this particular supporting seaport. Basing on anthropological studies of sovereignty, I argue that contemporary construction of NSR as a specific Arctic area relies on interplay between state and private (in our case – industrial) actors in their shared governance of the coastal territory.

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