Northscapes: History, Technology, and the Making of Northern Environments
The idea of North is a multivalent concept. It is geographical, but more than just Arctic; it is both an imagined space and a place of harsh challenges. These challenges resonate with each other across the northern world, shaping different areas of the North in many similar ways. Distinctive northern environments are created as humans adapt to climatic and geographic conditions while simultaneously adapting the landscapes to their own needs with technologies, trade, and social organization. This collection of essays argues that the unique environments of the North have been borne of the relationship between humans and nature. Approaching the topic through the lens of environmental history, the contributors examine a broad range of geographies, including those of Iceland and other islands in the Northern Atlantic, Sweden, Finland, Russia, the Pacific Northwest, and Canada, over a time span ranging from CE 800 to 2000. Northscapes is bound together by the intellectual project of investigating the North both as an imagined and mythologized space and as an environment shaped by human technology. The North offers a valuable analytical framework that surpasses nation-states and transgresses political and historical borders. This volume develops rich explorations of the entanglements of environmental and technological history in the northern regions of the globe.
Mastering the North was a long-term problem for the Russian state, which at least from the eighteenth century tried to organize the effective use of its resources. This chapter illustrates two very distinct foreign models employed for the “state colonization” of the Russian North in a formative period between the Great Reform of 1861 and Stalin’s industrialization of 1930s: Norway and Canada. Although the use of the Norwegian model for colonization of the Russian North is relatively well studied, “railway colonization” of 1920s is not that well known,and very few works embrace both imperial and early Soviet periods of colonization.