This site records a very successful ESRC Seminar Series, Knowledges, Resources and Legal Regimes: The New Geopolitics of the Polar Regions (January 2010- October 2011), accredited to the RCUK Global Uncertainties programme.  Two seminars were held at the Foresight Centre, Liverpool, two at the British Library, London, and a further postgraduate workshop at Mansfield College, Oxford.  These seminars and workshops have developed an interdisciplinary and international network of academics, policy-makers and other experts, including a new generation of early career researchers.  As part of the original Seminar Series grant, an international database of scholars and policy-makers interested in the Polar Regions from perspectives in the humanities and social sciences was composed.  This was based on attendees and other individuals who expressed interest in the seminars.

This website is therefore an important resource on Polar Geopolitics.


This grant addresses the impacts of climatic changes in the Polar Regions on the global political landscape.  Growing uncertainty about the extent and feasibility of global resources has resulted in increasing attention being placed upon ‘difficult’ physical environments, such as the Circumpolar North and, even, Antarctica. The northern latitudes have hitherto been viewed as resource hinterlands for North America, Scandinavia, and, of course, Russia. However, recent climatic and political changes have altered this situation, such that new actors have emerged, such as China, the European Union, NGOs and global civil society.  Similarly, in the southern latitudes, there has been a resurgence of territorial nationalism by Antarctic claimant-states, such as Argentina, Chile and the United Kingdom.  This has put renewed pressure on the Antarctic Treaty System.

This grant therefore addresses critical themes for the RCUK Global Uncertainties Programme including the competition for natural resources, energy security, maritime security and the political implications of climate change.  The project primarily contributes to the core RCUK Global Uncertainties theme of ‘Threats to Infrastructure’, with a secondary contribution to the ‘Ideologies and Beliefs’ core theme.


Major outputs from the original ESRC Seminar Series Grant have been produced:

  • Powell, R.C. and K. Dodds (editors) (2014) Polar Geopolitics: Knowledges, Resources and Legal Regimes Edward Elgar: Cheltenham and Northampton, MA.
  • Dodds, K. and R.C. Powell (guest editors) (2013) Special Theme issue on ‘Polar Geopolitics’ The Polar Journal, 3(2).
  • Powell, R.C. and Dodds, K. (2010) Knowledges, resources and legal regimes: the new geopolitics of the polar regions. Polar Record 46(4): 375-376.

Taken together, these outputs involve around 35 chapters or articles from contributors and attendees of the original seminars and workshops in 2010 and 2011.  These contributors involve an international group of senior scholars, early career researchers and policy-makers.

Further Impact-Generating Activities

  1. Professional development of website and database
    This website will be maintained until September 2013 and into the future. A linked database is being developed.
  2. Production of policy-briefing paper
    It is aimed to have this completed by the end of 2013.
  3. Follow-up conference for UK policy-makers on the Arctic and Antarctic
    This event was held in September 2013 at Mansfield College, Oxford.