Arctic Security

*New CAPS Paper*

Alaska's Arctic Security Complex and Evolving Dynamics in Nome

Dr. Brandon M. Boylan and Dr. Jeremy S. Speight
Published by the Center for Arctic Policy Studies in October 2021

The Center for Arctic Policy Studies is pleased to support the production and publication of a new paper on Arctic Security by Dr. Brandon Boylan (Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of Arctic and Northern Studies, University of Alaska Fairbanks) and Dr. Jeremy Speight (Associate Professor and Chair of Political Science, University of Alaska Fairbanks). 

***PLEASE NOTE*** This paper is a work in progress, and feedback and comments submitted to CAPS Program Coordinator Maureen Biermann at will be gratefully accepted through November 25, 2021, with the plan to update the draft by  the end of 2021. Our goal is to bring diverse and often conflicting perspectives to bear on this important issue that directly impacts the lives of Alaskans, and both affirming and critical perspectives are greatly appreciated.

Abstract: Over the past few decades, scholars, practitioners and activists have expanded the concept of security beyond strict nation-state and militrary definitions. Concurrent to these conceptual developments, the Arctic has become a distinct region of study, with its own environmental, cultural, political, and economic identity. In this paper, we apply a holistic interpretation of security to Alaska's evolving Arctic space. Theoretical concepts of securitization and human security inform a novel matrix of various levels and types of security. Levels range from the local and communal to the international, while types include physical, military, economic, environmental, and cultural security. The matrix serves as a tool to differentiate and synthesize security in a variety of contexts, notably in Alaska's Arctic. To illustrate the utility of the matrix, and to present a more omplete picture of the security environment of the region, we analyze the current expanded port project in Nome, Alaska. In this case, we evaluate the ways in which the proposed project illustrates the complexity of and multiple perspectives on secuirty, while also examining the new challenges of security in a rapidly changing environment with a diverse set of interests focued on the Bering Strait region. This exercise reveals how the expanded port project might remedy some security challenges but exacerbate others.

Multidimensional, multiscalar hexagonal matrix showing Arctic secuirty dimensions
Nome's expanded port project: examples of scales and types of security. Credit: B. M. Boylan and J. S. Speight. 2021. Alaska’s Arctic Security Complex and Evolving Dynamics in Nome. Fairbanks: Center for Arctic Policy Studies.