Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 448

448 Arctic Yearbook 2015 ice), some among them also objected to the focus on law. It was noted that law, by its very nature, divides space (and uses of space) into generalizable categories that deny the possibility for change over time, and thus some argued that the focus on law was inconsistent with the project’s objectives. Some workshop participants suggested that the legal focus needed to be abandoned entirely if we were to maintain an understanding of Arctic space and its uses as dynamic and unstable. Others suggested that these problems could be addressed by expanding the legal focus to include international soft law (e.g. regulatory mechanisms that operate by means not directly connected with the control of territory) or by adopting a legal pluralist perspective that recognized how state-based legal systems and practices are interwoven with community-based regulatory norms. In short, several of the participants who were more directly engaged in applied Arctic advocacy and research, questioned both the focus on ice (and particularly sea ice) and the focus on law (and particularly formal public international law). These were potentially damning critiques for an initiative called the Ice Law Project. After all, if the Ice Law Project was not to be about either ice or law, then what was to be its focus? The aftermath During the final day of the workshop, participants agreed that we had begun a creative and potentially fruitful conversation that joined scholars studying human encounters with icy environments, other scholars examining the adaptations and frustrations that occur when Western law is applied to those environments, and still others theorizing what these experiences tell us about the relationship between state and space. However, many in the group acknowledged that the initially chosen vehicle for that conversation – the development of a model law for sea ice (Article 234a, as it came to be called at the workshop) – might not be well suited for the task. The general consensus was that the goal of constructing a model public international law of sea ice was too constrained by the formality of law, the temporal and spatial restrictions mandated by the category of sea ice, and the impracticality of its realization. Nonetheless, participants retained a commitment toward addressing the broader question of how Western law is and is not suited to frigid environments. They also retained a commitment toward exploring how answers to that question might enhance both the development of Arctic regulatory institutions and our understanding of the geophysical underpinnings of modern state institutions. To that end, in the year since the workshop occurred, the Ice Law Project has taken on four tasks that have sought to pursue its research agenda through a more distributed approach. The first, and most simple, has been to rename the Ice Law Project as the ICE LAW Project, with the acronym standing for ‘Indeterminate and Changing Environments; Law, the Anthropocene, and the World’. This name change signifies that the project is not solely about understanding the intersection between ice and law (and perhaps developing a new set of legal mechanisms for regulating human uses of ice). It also announces our intent to use our understanding of that intersection for making broader insights about the relationship between a dynamic geophysical world undergoing unprecedented, human-generated climate change and a political-legal system that imagines static and absolute boundaries among land-based, territorial states and between solid land and liquid sea. Some of these insights will likely be of especial relevance for understanding the Arctic, but some may well be oriented toward increased understanding of global processes and institutions. From Ice Law to ICE LAW