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An articulation of geopolitics otherwise? Indigenous language-use in spaces of Arctic geopolitics

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Ingrid A. MedbyORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2023.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


This article takes up the call for political geographers to engage more directly with Wittgenstein’s later philosophy of language, namely his emphasis on language as activity and practice. In particular, it considers his approach to linguistic demonstration over representation, whereby the reader is not ‘told’ but ‘shown’. This arguably instructive conceptualisation of the functioning of language is here applied to a space of geopolitics, focusing on the political potentialities of articulating an Arctic otherwise through selective bilingualism and language-use. More specifically, the paper centres on the particular use of North Sámi language in a conference space otherwise dominated by English and Norwegian. The act of ‘articulating otherwise’ is not here an act of defiance but rather an invitation for re-conceptualisation: In making Indigenous voices heard on their own terms, it is not only the words but even more so the act of their utterance that carries political power. The paper therefore argues that political geographers ought to (re)direct attention to language-use and the socio-political practices of linguistic world-making. By drawing on Wittgenstein’s approach to language-use, what here becomes clear is that geopolitical questions too are negotiated not through given answers but rather through the interactive process of reaching these together – insights which in turn allow us to consider how agency and change may play out through language-use, potentially articulating geopolitics otherwise.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Medby IA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Area

Year: 2023

Volume: 55

Issue: 1

Pages: 18-25

Print publication date: 01/03/2023

Online publication date: 22/10/2021

Acceptance date: 14/10/2021

Date deposited: 25/10/2021

ISSN (print): 0004-0894

ISSN (electronic): 1475-4762

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/area.12758


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