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Unfreezing the ArcticScience, Colonialism, and the Transformation of Inuit Lands$
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Andrew Stuhl

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226416649

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226416786.001.0001

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Strategic: Defense and Development in Permafrost Territory

Strategic: Defense and Development in Permafrost Territory

Chapter:
(p.88) (p.89) Chapter Four Strategic: Defense and Development in Permafrost Territory
Source:
Unfreezing the Arctic
Author(s):

Andrew Stuhl

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226416786.003.0005

This chapter demonstrates how knowledge about the Arctic's subsurface environment became strategic to continental security and the North American petroleum economy between the onset of World War II and 1959. The advent of aircraft and missile technologies, and the rise of tensions with the Soviet Union, helped transform the far north from a natural barrier impeding Soviet power to a strategic zone in desperate need of infrastructure. Meanwhile, discoveries of oil in Arctic Alaska and the Canadian Mackenzie Delta brought renewed interest from bureaucrats and corporations in northern resource extraction. It is argued that the science of permafrost, a term coined in the early 1940s to describe phenomena found in the Arctic subsoil, became a field of inquiry that united military agencies, governments, and oil companies in the modernization of the Arctic. The analysis follows laboratory research at the Naval Arctic Research Laboratory, the Canadian Arctic Permafrost Expedition of 1951, the Aklavik relocation survey, and the construction of Inuvik, a new administrative center in the Mackenzie Delta.

Keywords:   permafrost, World War II, naval arctic research laboratory, oil development, Inuvik, Aklavik, Soviet Union, strategic, canadian arctic permafrost expedition

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