The Paradox of Svalbard: Climate Change and Globalisation in the Arctic (Anthropology, Culture and Society) (Paperback)

The Paradox of Svalbard: Climate Change and Globalisation in the Arctic (Anthropology, Culture and Society) By Zdenka Sokolícková, Thomas Hylland Eriksen (Foreword by) Cover Image
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‘Engaging, rich and nuanced, this book exposes the deep dilemmas facing this Arctic archipelago. A must for anyone with an interest in the challenges of a melting world. Ethnography at its best’ Marianne E. Lien, Professor, University of Oslo

‘Rich and deeply textured ... Zdenka Sokolíčková demonstrates how the logic of extraction intersects awkwardly with community, environment, geopolitics and sustainability’ Klaus Dodds, Professor, Royal Holloway University of London

‘Lucidly captures the dilemmas of maintaining community in the world’s northernmost settlement, where climate change is particularly evident. Highly recommended!’ Cecilie Vindal Ødegaard, Professor, University of Bergen

Longyearbyen in the Arctic is the world’s northernmost settlement. Here, climate change is happening fast. It is clearly sensed by the locals; with higher temperatures, more rain and permafrost thaw. At the same time, the town is shifting from state-controlled coal production to tourism, research and development. It is rapidly globalising, with numerous languages spoken, and with cruise ships sounding their horns in the harbour while planes land and take off.

A small town of 2,400 inhabitants on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, Longyearbyen provides a unique view into the unmistakable relationship between global capitalism and climate change. The Paradox of Svalbard looks at local and global trends to access a deep understanding of the effects of tourism, immigration and labour on the trajectory of the climate crisis, and what can be done to reverse it.

Zdenka Sokolíčková is a researcher at the University of Hradec Králové, Czechia, and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Her research in Longyearbyen was hosted by the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo, Norway.

About the Author


Zdenka Sokolícková is a researcher at the University of Hradec Králové, Czechia, and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Her research in Longyearbyen was hosted by the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo, Norway.

Thomas Hylland Eriksen is a Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo and former President of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA). He is the author of numerous classics of anthropology, including Small Places, Large IssuesEthnicity and Nationalism, and What is Anthropology?

Praise For…


'In a rich and  deeply textured account of the human communities that call Svalbard “home”, Zdenka Sokolícková demonstrates how the logic of extraction intersects awkwardly with community, environment, geopolitics and sustainability. If Svalbard is a paradox then it will demand explicit recognition of the competing interests, pressures and wishes that make the archipelago and its communities such intriguing places to live, work and study.'
Klaus Dodds, Professor of Geopolitics Royal Holloway University of London

'Lucidly captures the dilemmas of maintaining community in the world's northernmost settlement, where climate change is particularly evident. Through fine-grained ethnography, this weaves together questions of belonging, labor, and inequality with the paradoxes of 'green growth'- initiatives and geopolitics. Highly recommended!'
Cecilie Vindal Ødegaard, Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Bergen

'Sokolícková profoundly and poetically reveals Svalbard as a site of concentrated uncertainty: simultaneously microcosm and periphery, container for a range of peculiarly 21st century meanings, and home to a community unique in the world.'
Adam Grydehøj, Editor-in-Chief of 'Island Studies Journal'

'More than a tourist destination, Svalbard is a hotspot of geopolitics, climate change, transient migration and social inequalities. Engaging, rich and nuanced, this book gives voice to people whose stories are rarely told, and exposes the deep dilemmas facing this Arctic archipelago. This book is a must for anyone with an interest in Svalbard, and the challenges of a melting world. Ethnography at its best.'
Marianne E. Lien. Professor, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo

'A rich introduction to Svalbard across temporalities, where the past is as present as the future. While located on the rim of the world, Sokolickova makes a strong case for why Svalbard offers insight into many and entangled 'burning' issues of modernity. A skilled storyteller, she tells us something important about our world ... balancing on paradoxes that are perhaps not as unique to Svalbard, as Svalbard makes them apparent.'
Annette Löf, Senior Research Fellow, Stockholm Environment Institute

‘Makes the convincing case that Svalbard, despite being a sparsely populated area in the extreme north … offers crucial lessons to the world’
‘Jacobin’
Product Details
ISBN: 9780745347400
ISBN-10: 0745347401
Publisher: Pluto Press
Publication Date: July 20th, 2023
Pages: 224
Language: English
Series: Anthropology, Culture and Society