Project Overview

Arctic-Asian connections in the 21st century

Faculty Sponsor

Jessica Graybill (


Russian & Eurasian Studies


This project will explore new and increasing connections between Asia and the Arctic in the 21st century. The Arctic is a region garnering worldwide attention as one of the most rapidly changing regions due to global climate change. One of the most startling changes will be the reduction—and perhaps near disappearance—of sea ice across the Arctic within the next few decades. Sea-ice reduction had brought the prospect of transnational shipping to the Arctic via three proposed shipping and transportation routes. New actors in the Arctic geopolitical arena, such as transnational corporations and non-Arctic nations, are increasingly expressing interest in what the “opening up” of the Arctic will mean for business (primarily shipping) and international relations (namely with Russia). For example, shipping companies and cruise tourism are two new arenas of economic interest, and China and Singapore are two new actors with interest in the Arctic today. These new actors have secured places on the international Arctic Council, a multinational governmental body that works to address issues faced by the governments and indigenous peoples of the Arctic. They are especially interested in aiding the development of coastal Russian Arctic regions because of the viability of the Northern Sea Route that runs largely through the Russian Arctic and the proximity of this sea route to the locales in which goods for global consumption are produced (i.e., China and other parts of Asia). For these reasons, understanding the production of knowledge—by scholars, nation-states, and transnational shipping corporations—about the Russian Arctic in a region increasingly called Northeast Asia is important because they are shaping new and possibly long-term futures for this region. This project involves creating a database of literature from scholarly, governmental, and commercial sites that helps understand the rise of this “new” region, Northeast Asia, and an initial analysis of it to provide more knowledge of potential Arctic futures.

Student Qualifications

Student qualifications
  1. Students must have at least some knowledge of the Russian language (preferably two years,  but even one year would be fine).
  2. Students must be willing to seek out scholarly literature and scour the internet for any governmental documents or commercial media that represent the Northeastern Asia and/or the Arctic-Asia connections (such as on national governmental websites, YouTube, in advertisements, and any other kinds of media that can be considered)
  3. Students must be willing to conduct a thorough search of the academic literature and upload annotated findings into Zotero
  4. Students must be willing to write an analytical research paper that uses the results of their academic searches to contextualize the database and their conclusions about the Asia-Arctic connections.
Hoping for in-person, provisional plans for remote
This project can be done in person in Hamilton next summer or could be partially or fully remote if needed by any students or as deemed necessary by the university. Because this project involves multiple digital components, all students need to have is access to a computer and to be willing to meet with me regularly via Zoom.

Number of Student Researchers

2 students

Project Length

8 weeks

Applications open on 01/03/2022 and close on 02/04/2022

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If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (