North American Arctic

INFRANORTH’s North American Arctic study region comprises Alaska, the Yukon Territory (YT), the Northwest Territories (NWT), Manitoba and Nunavut in Canada as well as cross-border connections to the Russian Arctic and the European Arctic. While Alaska’s transport infrastructure is historically well-developed, infrastructure development in Northern Canada started comparatively late, with new transport infrastructure schemes surfacing all over the region; from maritime and road projects to the development of aviation and regional airport hubs. The latter being particularly important because of the remoteness and isolation of many communities in this study region. In exploring the affordances of transport infrastructures for local actors, the study region’s case studies ask how people engage with, use, and think about infrastructures; and how these perspectives relate to the imagined, planned, and actual sustainability of local communities. The following are potential case study areas:

  • The North American anchor point in the Bering Strait case study area is the regional transportation hub of Nome in Alaska. Besides local infrastructural developments in Nome, this study focuses on cross-border relations and cultural contacts between this site and the NSR port of Provideniya on the Russian side (see Russian Arctic Study Region). Enabling thus the analysis of tensions between geopolitics and regional cooperation by exploring actual and planned local infrastructure projects such as the construction of an arctic deep-water seaport in Nome.
  • The Alaska-Canada Border case study area with its anchor points Fort Yukon, Old Crow and Inuvik is situated in the cross-border region of eastern Alaska, YT and western NWT. This area and its infrastructures have been deeply affected by the creation of both international and territorial borderlines. Besides focusing on planned and existing infrastructures, such as the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway which is Canada’s only all-weather road to the Arctic Ocean, studies in this area explore the role of locally developed transport networks for local communities.
  • The Churchill case study area in Manitoba is technically situated in the Subarctic. However, the town of Churchill, as the study area’s anchor point, represents Canada’s main seaport on the Arctic Ocean, the only Arctic deep-water port connected to the North American railway network. In addition, it is linked to Murmansk in Russia via the seasonal shipping route Arctic Bridge. This study explores local perspectives on the town’s sustainability in relation to recent changes in ownership and control of transport infrastructures.
  • The North American anchor point in the Davis Strait case study area is Nunavut’s regional capital of Iqaluit. Besides focusing on aviation as the region’s key mode of travel, this study centers around existing and planned maritime infrastructures to connect Iqaluit and Nuuk, the capital of Greenland. Given the close political and cultural ties between Nunavut and Greenland and their locations along the Northwest Passage, transport infrastructure projects have been constantly discussed and planned on both sides of Davis Strait (see European Arctic Study Region). Another research site of this case study area is Mary River on Baffin Island, Nunavut, and transport infrastructure projects related to the local extraction industry.