The theme of the symposium in 2024 is Thinking with water: Exploring the edges

Water matters - as a source of life, as a basis for human activities, and as a global concern due to pollution, loss of biodiversity and warming climate. In the Critical Arctic studies symposium this fall, we will approach water from the perspective of edges. The word “an edge” refers to the outside limit of an object, area, or surface. In the context of watery environments, it may refer to any kind of water body and its boundaries, such as a lake, a sea or a body of ice, for example. The edge may be also the part of it that is furthest from the middle or the center, like the peripheral, northern waters and coastal communities. Additionally, an edge may emerge as part of human imaginary. The idea of edge – as also elaborated by Laura Watts in her book Energy at the End of the World: an Orkney Islands Saga (MIT Press, 2019) - challenges the separation of the social from water relations, politics, and governance. Use, access, and protection of water bodies are at the edge of societal debates locally, regionally, and nationally in the Arctic. As a matter of concern water issues have been identified as one of the main concerns in the Anthropocene, the era of harmful impacts of human activities across the globe.

In fall 2024, the Critical Arctic Studies symposium will explore diverse, multiple edges in different watery relations and contexts; to blur the edges between water bodies and land as well as between human and non-human entities in watery environments; and to problematize, colonialist traditions and contemporary, modern epistemic practices of thinking of water. We encourage the participants to consider their critical contribution to foster understanding of complex, entangled water-society relations and ways to study them differently. We invite proposals that draw on marine and water social sciences, critical water and ocean studies as well as from blue humanities research.

The theme of the symposium in 2024: Thinking with water: Exploring the edges
The date and location: 1-3 October 2024 at University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland
The event will be held in hybrid mode

Important dates

  • Deadline for abstract submission 15.6.2024
  • Information about accepted abstracts 28.6.2024
  • Program ready 30.8.2024

For enquiries, please send an email to

Organizers: Prof. Monica Tennberg, Prof. Frank Sejersen, Dr. Hannah Strauss-Mazzullo, Researcher Heidi Konttinen and Dr. Sohvi Kangasluoma

The aim of the organizer, UArctic Thematic Network on Critical Arctic Studies, is to challenge mainstream, simplified, and stereotypical understandings of the Arctic; question the basis of the current depictions of the region and its development; engage more standpoints and voices for diverse reflective assessments of policy; and elevate the importance of the region and its future on the global scale. The event is organized by the UArctic Thematic Network of Critical Arctic studies in collaboration with two Arctic Centre-based projects: Post-anthropocentric water relations in the Bothnian Bay, funded by the Finnish Research Council and “A Planetary Approach to Global Arctic Politics”, project funded by the University of Lapland.