Arctic Silk Road: Imagining Global Infrastructures and Community Boundaries in Sápmi and the Russian North," is a project funded by the Research Council of Norway (2020-2024). It follows the social and material lives of global infrastructures across time and space.
The “Arctic Silk Road” refers to an infrastructure network meant to facilitate the flow of goods between northeast China and markets in Europe through a northern sea route and melting sea ice. It features plans for an Arctic railway traversing the transnational Indigenous Sámi homeland (Sápmi) from Rovaniemi in Finland to the major shipping port of Kirkenes in Norway, and the build up of Arctic sea port and railway infrastructure along the Russian coast. International preparations have fostered local uncertainty and collective mobilization against the plans through art and new alliances along the envisioned routes. This is weaving new relations between Sámi communities practicing subsistence and duodji lifeways, residents of precarious northern industrial centers, state governments, and international organizations. At the same time, it has raised memories of past industrial developments to bear on the present moment--the effects of state incursions on self-sufficiency and local production.
Through a material lens, the project 1) compares competing visions of the Arctic Silk Road along its anticipated routes, and 2) investigates how infrastructures in these regions have shaped social and territorial relations through time. Through collaboration with local communities, artisans, and museum curators, project findings will contribute to ongoing discussion of infrastructural impacts and self-determination in Sápmi.