The Arctic is a vast and very heterogeneous space in geographical, cultural, historical, and political sense. Its communities are spread across three continents and have their own characteristics that make them unique. At the same time, they share certain characteristics (such as low levels of population density and high degrees of remoteness) and face common challenges related to e.g. climate change, global geopolitics, and transportation activities. InfraNorth aims at explaining the role of transport infrastructures in sustaining Arctic communities from an affordance perspective and by comparing selected case studies.
InfraNorth’s Integration Component (IC), which is managed by an interdisciplinary team of geographers and anthropologists, endeavours to coordinate the research effort on what, when and how is going to be investigated in the three study regions of the project (European, North American, and Russian Arctic). To do so, the IC sets up the main lines of comparison between the case study areas and regions. It provides common methodological guidelines so that all project members are able to work with the same research protocol that is, at the same time, flexible enough to deal with the heterogeneity of the case study areas. One key tool in this respect is an on-site field survey exploring relationships between transport infrastructure and local population. It consists of questionnaires that are distributed in situ and are jointly analysed and interpreted using statistical processing and GIS.
The outputs of the IC will mainly include visual and cartographic representations of both quantitative (demographic and socioeconomic statistics, surveys) and qualitative (interviews, informal communication, participant observation, archival records) data. Charts and maps will feed internal discussion as well as locally hosted scenario round tables (i.e. place based discussions in the form of “serious games”) and a Panarctic scenario forum that will incorporate local residents’, as well as decision makers’ and planners’ perspectives. The IC will also coordinate the collection of “infrastructure archives”, a body of archival records and field data and objects that will capture the temporal and spatial magnitude of infrastructure projects and the heterogeneous responses they trigger. The final products will include scientific publications, but also cartography that will convey research results in a user-friendly manner.