Virtual panel “Extractive Geopolitics”

Last weekend Professor Tynkkynen participated in the virtual panel “Extractive Geopolitics” at EMC Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center Extractive Encounters forum in Tbilisi.

Extractivism unites the state, capital, society, and natural resource governance as governments use resource extraction to boost national economies. Yet these industries’ political drivers and consequences exist across multiple scales, uniting personal experience with international politics and relations. This panel explores the relations among extractive industries and geopolitics, and how power flows through spaces and networks of extraction. Cases come from across Eurasia and illustrate diverse ways of theorizing and implementing critical approaches to extractive politics. Three presentations will be followed by a moderated conversation and questions to the panelists.
More information can be found on the EMC website.

Russia’s perspective on energy and climate change in the Arctic

Yesterday Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen gave a talk “Russia’s perspective on energy and climate change in the Arctic” at the panel “Sectors and projects of connectivity: opportunities and risks” during the meeting of the “Nordic-Baltic connectivity with Asia via the Arctic” project. The project is conducted by the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute/ International Centre for Defence and Security in cooperation with the Finnish Institute of International Affairs and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.

The Arctic region is of increasing strategic importance for the Nordic-Baltic countries. It is also becoming more and more an area of great power competition, involving Russia, the US, and the growing role of China. Furthermore, it is becoming more important as a region that connects Northern Europe with Asia. The project will focus on the risks and opportunities involved in increased connectivity and interdependence between the Nordic-Baltic countries and Asia via the Arctic region. It will analyze the interests of the Nordic-Baltic states and other major stakeholders in the region, looking especially at the (potential) connectivity projects in different sectors and the related security risks. Conceptually, it will build on the theories of geoeconomics and liberal interdependence as alternative approaches to connectivity. The topic is highly timely, as the Nordic-Baltic cooperation format (Nordic-Baltic 8 or NB8), chaired by Estonia in 2020, has made connectivity, including regional energy and transport projects, a key priority. Finland will take over the chair in 2021. The project will involve experts from the Nordic and Baltic states and Japan with knowledge of the Arctic region and the interests of Russia, China, US, EU, Japan and Nordic-Baltic states in the region. The main outcome will be an edited report/book including articles on different aspects of Nordic-Baltic connectivity with Asia and the role of the Arctic region.

More information is available online.


ASEEES Convention takes place online this year, and our team participated in it this weekend virtually.

On Friday, the 6th of November, Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen was a discussant at the “Evaluating Energy Development in the Russian Arctic” panel. The aim of the panel was to evaluate energy development in the Russian Arctic from various viewpoints, including those of indigenous societies, businesses, governments, and foreign companies.

The next day, he and Elena Gorbacheva participated in the “Environment and Contemporary Culture IV: Discourses of Energy/Waste” panel. Professor Tynkkynen presented a paper “The ‘Visibility of Energy’ and Energy/Hydrocarbon Culture in Petrostates, and What We Can Learn from it in the Era of Climate Change“:

Oil and gas dependent countries tend to fortify the regime in power by several direct means that can be characterized as ‘naked’ power. Despite the fact that many regimes in Petrostates are highly authoritarian, and have the means and will to control the people by force, this form of power, however, is not sufficient nor efficient enough to maintain power. Therefore, oil and gas dependent countries, such as Russia, Nigeria and UAE, lean on a large spectrum of biopolitical objectives that are entangled with the narrative and practices concerning energy. The outcome is a specific form of geo-governmentality where the materialities and spatialities of oil and gas are utilized to produce a comprehensive narrative including economic, political, and identity-related justifications. Thus, a hydrocarbon culture is being constructed to produce loyal citizens that do not question the economic, political or environmental rational of the Petrostate.
Therefore, the era of climate change is a major challenge to the Petrostates’ regimes to maintain power, as the global energy transition ultimately aims at leaving the fossil era behind. Stitching oil and gas to the nationalistic narratives of Petrostates, aiming to build a hydrocarbon-culture identity, is a process that can, however, teach on a broader front how to combat climate change. The key is that within hydrocarbon cultures the materialities and spatialities – the geology, chemistry, geography and engineering – are made visible for the citizens: people in Russia and United Arab Emirates know, as they are taught by the national energy companies and ministries, how oil and gas is produced, refined and transported, and how these forms of energy are interwoven in the social, political and economic fabric of the society.

Elena Gorbacheva presented a paper “Environmental Mobilization in Russia: Case-study of Protests Against the Shies Landfill Construction”. The paper aimed to understand the dynamic of protest mobilisation against the Shies landfill construction (Arkhangelsk region, Russia) through the frames the protesters utilised.

The next day, on the 8th of November, Alla Bolotova gave a talk  “Soviet Mining Villages and Their Afterlife: From Rural to Urban and Back” at the panel “Late Soviet Village II: Things and Infrastructures between Rural and Urban“:

Mining industrialisation played a key role in formation of the structure of settlements in the Soviet Union. While mining cities attracted some attention among researchers, smaller mining villages were almost not studied yet. This paper deals with histories of several small mining settlements in the Soviet Arctic (Murmansk region), focusing on sense of place and interaction with the environment among residents.

What mobilises people in Russia?

Today our team representatives, Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen and Meri Kulmala took part together with journalist Jussi Konttinen in the Tiedekulma event “Mikä lii­kut­taa kan­saa Ve­nä­jäl­lä?” (What mobilises people in Russia?). The discussion was led by Ville Blåfield and focused on the politicization of local and social issues in Russia. Svetlana Erpyleva from Public Sociology Laboratory provided video comments.

When Moscow wanted to take its waste more than a thousand miles to Arkhangelsk region, the locals rose up to oppose the project. In addition to the widespread environmental protests, Russia has seen the mobilisation of citizens around other local issues that strongly affect people’s daily lives, such as construction and day care. What is everyday social and political activity in Russia like? Does the change in the system arise from everyday issues and protest-ready people? What is political in Russia?

The speakers discussed the concrete local problems and how sometimes they trespass regional borders and get politicised, like in Shiyes case, how local grievances can reveal problems on structural level, and how the people mobilise against them and what affects it. The discussion covered a broad range of issues and Russian areas from an expert point of view.

The recording of the discussion is available below:


EXALT Symposium 2020

Today Sohvi Kangasluoma participated in the Doctoral Students’ Conference 2020: (De)nat­ur­al­ising Ex­tract­iv­ism: In­vest­ig­at­ing its So­cial Or­ders and Res­ist­ances. She presented her paper “Narratives of Emotion and Extractivism in the framework of Global Capitalism” at the session “Extractivism and local identity negotiations: cases from the Arctic and the Baltics“.

Photo by Juho Karhu

In the talk, Sohvi presented her current work, focusing on Northern Norway. She explored the question of how does local oil and gas production impact peoples human security, and what kind of role do emotions have in that.  She concluded that the security narratives are complex as the local production is both the source of security and insecurity, and notes that the global capitalist/extractivist framework sets certain limits for crafting the narratives. In addition, she argued that the role of emotions should be crucial within the human security approach.

Leadership Symposium in Tampere

Today Tampere University organises Leadership Symposium (Johtajuussymposium), and Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen is one of the panelists there.

Seminars and panels at the Leadership Symposium bring together representatives from the university, the business world and public administration over the themes of sustainability. The event provides eleven seminars with the impressive coverage of speeches from the top experts, as well as diverse perspectives on the theme of the day. Grab the challenge and move from words to deeds. Together, we can find solutions to the challenges of sustainable development!

Professor Tynkkynen was one of the speakers at the panel “Kestävä energia ja huoltovarmuus ” (Sustainable energy and security of supply) together with Pami Aalto (Jean Monnet -professor, Tampereen University), Arto Räty (Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Communicatios, Fortum), and Harri Laurikka (toimitusjohtaja, Bioenergia ry).

In the vision of the EL-TRAN consortium, wind power, together with nuclear power and hydropower, will become the basic solution for Finnish energy production alongside the Nordic and wider European electricity trade. At the same time, bioenergy will remain part of the energy production solution, but partly in a new role. In public road traffic, there will be a shift to wind-assisted electrification, and in heavy road transport – to domestic biogas. Domestic biofuels are consumed, especially in maritime and air transport, in a mixed share. The problems of more weather-dependent electricity generation will be solved with various domestic flexible solutions that extend to ordinary households and also utilize electric car batteries in addition to bioenergy.

All this means that very few fossil fuels will be imported from abroad, while so far, among other things, Russian imports have accounted for about 45% of Finland’s primary energy consumption. The consequences are significant not only for security of supply issues in public administration, but also for energy companies in terms of both creative destruction and new business opportunities. All this also binds Finland much less to fossil fuel producers, while the importance of the Finnish market for them decreases.

Here is the video recording of the panel:

Learn more about the event at the Symposium’s webpage.

Hilma Salonen defended her PhD

Today our Hilma Salonen has defended her doctoral dissertation “Russian Renewable Energy Politics in the Arctic: National Priorities and Local Realities”.  The Opponent was professor Greg Poelzer, University of Saskatchewan, and the Custos was professor Janne Hukkinen, University of Helsinki. Due to the travel restrictions, the Opponent took part in the defense online.

The Russian Arctic is known of its vastness of space, unrelenting weather and
natural resources. Renewable energy, however, is rarely linked with developing the
country’s Arctic regions. This dissertation explores what kind of importance could
de-centralized energy sources have in a setting dominated by fossil fuel revenues.
Initiatives launched by private actors are mainly absent in the Russian Arctic, but
this does not mean that the local level does not have agency of its own, nor does it
rule out interesting side trajectories developed in the regions. This study examines
these issues with the help of three case studies, which explore (i) the key priorities
of national renewable energy policies, (ii) the enabling and restricting factors behind
the use of biomass for energy in Arkhangelsk, and (iii) the relation between existing
power structures and new energy projects in the Republic of Sakha.

In addition to increasing knowledge on renewable energy use in the Russian Arctic
regions, this study contributes to the theoretical discussions on public justification,
sociotechnical (energy) transitions and the multi-level perspective approach, and
carbon lock-ins. With the help of these theoretical concepts, it is possible to analyze
Russian energy politics not only as a special case but as a part of a bigger continuum of
sociotechnical transitions. Since literature on energy transitions has mainly discussed
transition cases in market-led, energy-importing countries, evaluating its key notions
in the context of the Russian Arctic offers new viewpoints on their adaptability.

The results of this dissertation state that the Russian official discourse promoting
renewable energy use favors concrete, technical objectives at the expense of a more
ambitious long-term vision. Various lock-ins restrict the possibility of alternative
energy forms to develop, and while new actors work alone, existing lock-ins
reinforce each other. However, even the current situation holds many possibilities for
alternative practices to find niches and develop. Energy policy-making and regional
development are neither top-down nor bottom-up affairs, but instead happen in a
dynamic interaction between local, regional, and national actors — despite the highly
centralized character of the current political system. These realities offer possibilities
for renewable energy projects to take root in the Russian Arctic, albeit as a part of the
great power politics related to fossil fuel exports.

Professor Poelzer highly praised Salonen’s work for its findings, methodological and theoretical approaches. He called it a “model case of how to do hard research work”. “She’s done masterful work in laying a new foundation in theoretical understanding of energy transitions”. Professor Poelzer especially praised the introduction part of the dissertation – «the part of the dissertation I returned to again and again is the introduction. It’s one of the best introductions I’ve read in 20 years.”. The Opponent called Hilma Salonen one of the most honest scholars he knows and a scholar he wants to follow for years to come. He encouraged Hilma to continue her research in the future and suggested, that the next step could be to compare the two cases she had in her PhD – Arkhangelsk oblast and Sakha republic. Profesor Poelzer thinks that what Hilma Salonen found in her research can help us better understand the differences in energy transitions, energy governance, and approaches to renewable energy in different contexts, like, for example, the Nordic countries. In his concluding remarks, the Opponent said that the dissertation is an example of how good social science research should be conducted and proposed that the dissertation is accepted.

Our research group is very proud of brilliant Hilma Salonen and congratulates her on successful defense!

Polar readings 2020

On 18-21st of may the annual scientific conference “Polar readings 2020. History of science research in the Arctic and the Antarctic” took part online. It was devoted to the centenary of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in St. Petersburg and to the bicentenary of the Antarctic exploration. Our project AUCAM was presented at the conference by Nikolai Bobylev with a presentation by him, Alexander Sergunin, and Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen. The slides and main theses can be found from the conference website, and Bobylev’s can be watched on Youtube.

Mistä ruoka pöytään ja energia piuhaan? YHYS Politiikkadialogi 2020

Today our Doctoral candidate Sakari Höysniemi participated in the event titled “Mistä ruoka pöytään ja energia piuhaan? YHYS Politiikkadialogi 2020” (Where do the food on the table and energy in cords come from? YHYS Policy dialogue 2020) on the 25th of May. The event was organised by the Forum for Environmental Information and was held online. Sakari participated in the second discussion of the event, where the participants talked about their perspectives on energy security and sustainable models of local economies.

More information on the event can be found from Ympäristötiedon foorumi.

Discussion at Oodi

Yesterday in Oodi library was held a panel discussion on environmental activism in Russia “Citizens, authorities, and waste management in Russia”, organised by Suomi-Venäjä Seura. The seminar addressed current environmental issues related to waste management from the perspective of activists and researchers. Pavel Andreev, chief editor of the 7×7 online media outlet, PhD candidate Elena Gorbacheva, and Professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen participated In the discussion, chaired by Satu Hassi, Finnish MP from the Green Party. The video recording of the event is available below:

And an edited version of the discussion: