Mobilities, geopolitics, and regional resilience in the Arctic border areas

Theme 2. Connectivity
Session Name 2.8 Border securitization and connectivity in the Arctic
Datetime Sep 06, 2018 02:30 PM - 02:45 PM (UTC +3)
Location IT135
Presentation Type Oral
Presenter Eeva-Kaisa Prokkola
Author(s) Eeva-Kaisa Prokkola (University of Oulu, Finland)
Abstract text

Securitization of borders often poses problems from the perspective of regional development. Arctic border towns, often having a peripheralized location within a country, are especially vulnerable to sudden regional changes that came along with geopolitical turbulence and fluctuating cross-border mobilities. Alongside varying tourism mobilities, many Arctic border towns have become gateways for the growing numbers of forced migrants, something that often puts the existing infrastructure and social relations under stress.

In this paper, the question of border securitization and resilience is examined from a regional perspective. Regional resilience has become a popular term in the vocabulary of regional development and planning, referring to the analysis of regional strengths and vulnerabilities from a more holistic perspective. The particular focus is on the border towns of Tornio and Lappeenranta where cross-border mobilities are constructed as a question of regional resilience in a particular way. The border town of Tornio represents an EU internal border location that suddenly formed a key route to forced migrants in 2015. Lappeenranta is located next to the securitized EU external Finnish-Russian border and its regional development is closely interlinked with the growing numbers of cross-border tourism from the Russian side. Ukrainian crisis and the changes in the exchange rates declined the tourism mobility and stagnated the development of the Lappeenranta region. The examination is based on the analysis of regional strategies, a regional survey and interviews with key regional actors in Tornio and Lappeenranta.

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