"Thanks to the grant dedicated to the My Northern Project participants, I was able to attend the Arctic Circle Assembly 2022. Being part of the speakers at one of the most anticipated and largest polar conferences was as much an honor as it was a pleasure. As a PhD student in Anglo-Saxon Literature and member of the Malaurie Institute of Arctic Research at the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-En-Yvelines, this anticipated event also provided me with helpful insights about academic careers. Since I am dedicating my thesis to polar explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson and the strategic representation of the Arctic he offered to American society and its military agencies between 1918 and 1951, coming to Iceland was hence even more gratifying. Stefansson was of Icelandic descent and actively worked in favor of the cultural and defensive rapprochement between his parents’ homeland and the United States of America from the mid-1930s to the early 1940s.
The generosity of the grant made it possible for me to both travel to the Arctic Circle event and enjoy a comfortable stay in Reykjavík for the length of the whole event in the inspiring company of international peers and early researchers. This support was essential to developing my research as I knew I could much more easily connect with scholars – either attending the conference or residing in Iceland – who would suggest new directions to take in my research and invite me to their own facilities. Joining this event was a fantastic opportunity to learn from international researchers, professionals, military officers, and of course, representatives of Indigenous populations. Moreover, I was also looking forward to seeing again former colleagues and friends I met at the previous events I attended. These perspectives, added to the fact that it would be the first time I attend a polar event of this size, made this event formative for my understanding of multidisciplinary Arctic research.
Throughout my stay, I particularly appreciated the balance between cultural, environmental, and political studies offered by the different panels. This accomplishment is undoubtedly due to the increased presence of academics at the Assembly, who also added a fascinating and diverse approach to interconnected subjects. Matters of food, energy, human security, and military threats were well established as soon as the first day. At the same time, the challenges of sustainable development were equally demonstrated during the three days. These sessions complemented the eloquent speeches given by different political leaders from all over the Arctic region, who clearly established their ambitions and policies. The plurality of these politically committed speakers also laid the ground for constructive discussions during the Q&A moments that exposed an insightful difference of perspectives.
Overall, almost all of my expectations were met throughout these three intensive days of talks and networking. It provided me with a clearer image of large-scale international events and helped me meet decisive actors in my research field who will support my research – by granting me access to archival documents that have not been analyzed nor commented on so far, for instance. Furthermore, the critical presence of military-related American personalities not only coincided
perfectly with my research subject but also allowed me to approach them and receive precious clarifications about the United States’ current pivot towards the Arctic.
Hence, for allowing me to make considerable progress in my research and career, I can only express my deepest gratitude to UArctic and the donor who made this grant possible."
October 18, 2022
This scholarship was made possible thanks to a private donation towards youth participation in Arctic events. UArctic thanks the donor for their generosity and support in our mission!