Til bevillingsoversigt

Denmark and Greenland in Arctic politics: How external attention may change their internal relationship

Reintegration Fellowships


This research project examines how Denmark (DK) and Greenland (GL) position themselves - together as well as separately - in Arctic international politics, currently shaped by great power competition. This is important for two particular reasons: First, because it will significantly deepen our understanding of how the geopolitics and governance of the Arctic may change the national security of DK and GL. Secondly, because it will expose (para)diplomatic moves trying to shift the power balance within the Danish Realm and suggest scenarios for a restructuration in order to sustainably respond to these changes. The output of the post.doc-project will be the first ever academic monograph about DK and GL in Arctic politics - timed to coincide with their Arctic Council chairmanship in 2025.


Within the study of international relations (IR), the project will provide new understandings of quasi-states by analyzing how (para)diplomatic practices are decisive in defining and possibly expanding their room for maneuver, and by showing how geostrategic interests in their particular region can present new opportunities and risks in their strive for more self-determination. As part of Arctic area studies, the project will contribute with the first in-depth study of how DK and GL articulate and act their united and separate interests. This is also of relevance to other countries in the Arctic region as it demonstrates how vertical disputes within a composite state may change the horizontal relations between states when hitherto subordinated actors gain more authority.


The project will consist of three sub-studies focusing on how diplomats use their domestically formulated national identity narratives to position DK and GL in Arctic politics. These will be conducted in continuation of a discourse analysis, which will be used in triangulation with interviews and ethnographic observations, altogether showing how diplomats' differences and similarities are performed, and how this alters the DK- GL relationship and their respective room for maneuver. Practically, this will be done by interviewing diplomats in Copenhagen and Nuuk, as well as by observing their interaction at high-level Arctic gatherings such as Arctic Council ministerial meetings and circumpolar conferences.


For policymakers, the project will explain how great power competition influences the dynamics of the Danish Realm and, vice versa, how cooperation and conflict between DK and GL occur and influence the transnational governance of the northernmost region. With the chairmanship of the Arctic Council approaching, it is more important than ever to strike a sustainable balance between regional ambitions and postcolonial complications in order to gain more influence on the geopolitics and governance of the region. For the private sector, the project will provide insights into what DK and GL policymakers think about and prioritize in terms of commercialization of the Arctic since many diplomatic discussions revolve around determining specific criteria for economic engagements in the region. For the wider public, the project will lead to a better understanding of how governments balance different needs and considerations when representing them in geopolitical negotiations that may define the future of the Arctic and change the positions and perceptions of their respective countries in international politics. These insights will be disseminated through op-eds, a policy brief, a public event and a closed seminar at Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) where policymakers will be invited to discuss my findings. Additionally, I will continue sharing my research through media appearances and by participating in international as well as national conferences.