The Presence of the Past: Peoples, Politics and the Uses of History in the High North (PrePast)

This research group studies modern historical transformation processes in the High North and the Arctic. Our research describes the historical unfolding of such transformations, but also emphasizes how the events and developments of the past are activated in the present. In what ways are Arctic histories made present, negotiated and even contested?

The research is mainly connected to three thematic sub-themes:

-          Russia and the neighboring Arctic states

-          The Political Arctic. Decolonization, minority politics and indigenous peoples

-          States, institutions and the uses of history


While recognizing that “classical” concepts of history, such as actors, motifs, change and continuity are central in order to establish, describe and understand historical changes, it is equally important to be aware of symbols and materialities, enactments, meanings and interpretations that are connected to or embedded in transformation processes. Social narratives, memory politics, decoloniality, negotiations and transitional justice are hence key concepts for this research group. Through interdisciplinary research and collaboration, the research group further works to develop the methodologies of history towards better capturing the ways in which the past is activated in and acts upon the present. 


While PrePast is based at AHR, it also includes members from other departments at UiT. The background of the members is mainly history, human geography and science and technology studies (STS). The research group is building on and further developing strong research traditions at UiT. Studies of Russia, and Norway's relations with this large neighboring country, have long been a central research area for our historians. AHR also takes a special responsibility for historical studies of the Sami and the Kven. PrePast members are also taking a keen interest in the history of Nordic colonialism. The political history of the Arctic, and especially the policymaking of Norway, is the third central theme for the group. Several of the historians at AHR are working with topics such as Svalbard, Greenland, resource management, and foreign and security policy.