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Journal Article

Securitise the Volume: Epistemic Territorialisation and the Geopolitics of China’s Arctic Research


Eiterjord,  Trym
Lise Meitner Research Group China in the Global System of Science, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Max Planck Society;

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Eiterjord, T. (2024). Securitise the Volume: Epistemic Territorialisation and the Geopolitics of China’s Arctic Research. Territory, Politics, Governance, 12(1), 93-111. doi:10.1080/21622671.2023.2179535.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000D-89A5-E
This paper examines the geopolitics of producing volumetric space. It looks at how China, through its scientific presence in the Arctic, is acting as a territorialising actor in the region, and how circumpolar states, in response, are moving to securitise these activities. First, the paper develops the concept of epistemic territorialisation, examining how scientific practices, remote sensing technologies, and the environmental knowledge that they produce act to render atmospheric, oceanic and subterranean volumes legible, and thus volumetric. The paper then maps China’s efforts to acquire volumetric knowledge about the Arctic, before moving to consider how these efforts are being perceived by Arctic states. It concludes with a synopsis of the changing 21st-century political geography of geoscience in the Arctic, demonstrating how regional perceptions of China’s growing presence in the Arctic cast suspicion on the country’s scientific endeavours, in turn demonstrating how geoscientific practices are territorialising in ways that work across both physical and discursive registers.