Postcolonial polar cities? New indigenous and cosmopolitan urbanness in the Arctic

11 Nov 2019

(Acta Borealia) The arrival into geography, and especially urban geography, of a frame of questioning coming from postcolonial studies has contributed to a fascinating debate about what a “postcolonial” city is and how the urban duality between ethnically, socially, and spatially segregated “European” towns and “native” settlements is being reformulated and transformed. Obviously, Arctic cities are not postcolonial in the political sense of being independent from the former colonial centre – although this process may be under way in Greenland – but they have seen a progressive move from a Eurocentric culture toward greater hybridization. This article looks into two new trends that contribute to making Arctic cities postcolonial: first, the arrival of indigenous peoples in cities and the concomitant diminution of the division between Europeans/urbanites and natives/rurals; and second, the arrival of labour migrants from abroad, which has given birth to a more plural and cosmopolitan citizenry. It advances the idea that Arctic cities are now in a position to play a “decolonizing” role, in the sense of progressively erasing the purely European aspect of the city and making it both more local and rooted (through indigenous communities) and more global and multicultural (through foreign labour migrants).

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