Svalbard Studies

This webpage is dedicated to Svalbard Studies, a new area studies discipline which is currently being developed with RSCPR's active participation. See below for related events:

Prace i Studia Geograficzne vol. 67 no. 1 (2022) has published an article about Svalbard in Polish films of the 1950s-60s, by Jacek Szymala and Andrei Rogatchevski 


11 October 2022, Tromsø, a seminar by Anna Obukhova, a PhD student at UiT. "Corpus Assisted Discourse Analysis: Svalbard (Spitsbergen) through the Prism of the Russian News Media". The present study investigates how the Svalbard archipelago (Spitsbergen) has been covered by a number of Russian media outlets. Russia has a direct connection to Svalbard, which is a Norwegian territory, by means of Russian presence there in accordance with the Svalbard Treaty signed in February 1920. The Treaty recognizes the sovereignty of Norway over Svalbard and gives equal rights to other countries to conduct economic activity there. The present study deals with newspaper text data produced between 2010 and 2021 and is aimed at revealing the narrative lines related to Svalbard. I demonstrate how some political events within this timeline, e.g., the Treaty on Maritime Delimitation and Cooperation in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean (2010) and the start of the Ukrainian crisis (2014), form the narrative lines produced in the texts. A method used as a starting point within the present project is MBA (Market Basket Analysis), a data-mining technique that can be used to facilitate corpus-assisted discourse analysis. MBA reveals associative links between keywords occurring in different texts that comprise a corpus (Cvrček & Fidler 2022). Keywords are prominent words typical for a text and they can be considered indicators of the topic and style of a text (Fidler & Cvrček 2018: 198-199). Associative links produced by MBA provide a wider context for keywords within the discourse. At the same time, associative links can be interpreted as patterns of associations between concepts in the discourse (Cvrček & Fidler 2022).


Cvrček, Václav & Masako Ueda Fidler. 2022 (to appear). No Keyword is an Island: In search of covert associations. In Corpora, 17.2

Fidler, Masako & Václav Cvrček. 2018. Going Beyond “Aboutness”: A Quantitative Analysis of Sputnik Czech Republic. In Fidler, Masako and Václav Cvrček (eds.)  Taming the Corpus. From Inflection and Lexis to Interpretation. Springer Nature Switzerland IG. 195-225.


16 June 2022, Tromsø. A special issue of the journal Poljarnyj vestnik, 25 (1), 2022, called "Mining Svalbard: Art and Politics" (co-edited by Yngvar Steinholt and Andrei Rogatchevski), came out.


13 June 2022, Framsenteret (Tromsø). Andrei Rogatchevski introduced the concept of, and activities within, Svalbard Studies to members of the 2022 Calotte Academy.


7 April 2022, UiT, a seminar by Sophie Duveau (EHESS, Paris). "The entanglement of huts and science: Understanding the contemporary itinerary of cultural heritage on Svalbard". Although a considerable effort has been made to protect certain sites dating from the contemporary period, post-1945 cultural environments and built structures on Svalbard have received little attention. In this talk, the anthropologist and historian of science Sophie Duveau (EHESS, Centre Alexandre Koyré, Paris) will discuss the contemporary uses, imaginaries and attachments related to protected, non-protected and partially protected huts located on Brøggerhalvoya and in the Isfjord region. She will zoom in on how built structures may form a complementary source of historical knowledge to trace scientific expeditions over the second half of the 20thcentury and how their itineraries influence geographical practices in the present time.


In 2022, Ms Sophie Duveau (EHESS, Paris) and Prof Andrei Rogatchevski received two grants, one from CUNP and another from NFR/SSG (Arctic Field Grant), for a sum total of NOK 110,000, to fund Ms Duveau's research trips to Tromsø and Ny-Ålesund.


20 October 2021, UiT, a film screening by Dr Tomáš Sniegon (University of Lund), of his 2002 documentary "Špicberky - Za půlnočním sluncem" (Svalbard: To See the Midnight Sun) + Q&A


Kwartalnik historii nauki i techniki vol. 66 no. 3 (2021) has published an article about the cinematic representations of Stanisław Siedlecki (1912-2002), a Polish geologist and Svalbard expert, by Jacek Szymala and Andrei Rogatchevski 


4 March 2021, UiT, a seminar by Kirsten Johannessen (UiT). The abstract is in Norwegian: "SKIPSFORLIS VED BJØRNØYA (MK "OLAV", MARS 1920). Gruveselskapet Bjørnøen AS hadde sagt opp sine arbeidere etter en streik og sendte de oppsagte hjem til fastlandet. I den anledning ble to ishavsskuter fra Tromsø, MK "Olav" og MK "Ringsæl",  leid inn for å hente ned de som var på Bjørnøya. "Olav", ført av skipper og reder Kristoffer Meyer Eriksen, forliste med 35 personer på 22.-23.mars 1920, på vei fra Bjørnøya til Tromsø. Dette var en stor nasjonal tragedie i sin samtid, som fikk mye offentlig oppmerksomhet. Den ble også en politisk verkebyll etter hvert, og brukt som eksempel på hvor dårlig gruvearbeiderne ble behandlet på Svalbard.  Der var det ingen lover og regler som på fastlandet, og gruveselskapene hadde full råderett over sine ansatte.  Det ble til og med holdt et lukket regjeringsmøte i 1922, der dette ble tatt opp. Forlisets historie og ettervirkninger rekonstrueres i blant annet ved å bruke av gruveselskapets arkiverte direktørprotokoller, avisutklipp fra dagene og ukene etter ulykken og Kristoffer Meyer Eriksens private papirer. Her er Svalbardhistorie, arbeiderhistorie og ishavshistorie i forening. Det er mye dramatikk, med klare linjer til dagens situasjon".


9 February 2021, UiT, an online seminar by Rune N. Andreassen (NRK). The abstract is in Norwegian: "EN SKATTEKISTE I FARE. De første menneskene kom til Svalbard for over 400 år siden. Minnene kan ses over hele øygruppa, i form av gamle gravsteder og rester av spekkovner. Man trodde lenge at kulturminnene skulle vare evig i Svalbards isørken. Men nå trues både gravsteder, taubanebukker og fangsthytter av et varmere og fuktigere klima".


13 January 2021, Russian State University for Humanities, Moscow, an online conference "Russland og Norge: Interaksjonsmodeller under ustabile forhold"

'Chto takoe shpitsbergenovedenie?' [What Is Svalbard Studies?], presented by Andrei Rogatchevski



Kwartalnik Filmowy 112 (2020) has published an article on the 1930s' Polish films about Svalbard, by Jacek Szymala and Andrei Rogatchevski 



29 October 2020, Arkhangelsk Local History Museum, an online conference "Spitsbergen Archipelago: From Terra Nullius to the Interaction Territory" (on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Svalbard Treaty) 

‘Shpitsbergenovedenie – novaia nauchnaia distsiplina?’ [Svalbard Studies: A New Academic Discipline?], presented by Leonid S. Chekin



12 February 2020, Academia Borealis, Tromsø Museum: Dr Jacek Szymala and Professor Andrei Rogatchevski took part in the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Svalbard Treaty by introducing the screening of three archival documentaries about Svalbard, from the 1950-70s




Part I, Papers: 7 February 2020, Huset (Styrerommet)

09:30 – 10:30 Frigga Kruse, “Paper Tiger, Toothless Dragon: How British Mining Failed to Influence the Outcome of the Spitsbergen Treaty” (keynote)

Coffee break

10:45 – 11:15 Thor Bjørn Arlov, “Mining for Sovereignty? Norwegian Coal Companies and the Quest for Supremacy over Svalbard 1916-1925”

11:15 – 11:45 Birger Amundsen, “The Black Veins of Svalbard”

11:45 – 12:15 Svetlana Sokolova, “Spot the Miner: Do Clothes Really Make the (Wo)man?”

Lunch break

13:00 – 13:30 Andrei Rogatchevski, “Sergei Kharchenko’s «Tsvety i l’dy» (Flowers on Ice, 1971) and the Representation of Mining in Soviet Fiction”

13:30 – 14:00 Lisbeth Wærp, “Svalbard’s coal mining in Monica Kristensen’s (non-)fiction”

14:00 – 14:30 Elin Haugdal, “Coal Mining in Photography”

Coffee break

14:45 – 15:15 Turid Austin Wæhler (appearing by Skype), “Coal Mining and Health on Svalbard

15:15 – 15:45 Yngvar Steinholt, “The Hammer and the Chisel: Mining in the Popular Music of the Cold War Era”

15:45-16:15 Jacek Szymala, “Polish Documentary Films about Svalbard”


Part II, Film screenings: 8 February 2020, Galleri Svalbard, 14:00-16:00

Russian documentaries from RGAKFD (The Russian State Archive for Documentary Visuals, Krasnogorsk), introduced by Marina Iuzhaninova (Norfest)

Далеко на Севере / Far Away in the North (1932, dir. unknown) 19 min

На 78й параллели / At the 78th Parallel North (1934, dir. V. Boikov) (a fragment   No. 31/530) 5 min

За четырьмя морями / Beyond the Four Seas (1966, dir. I. Gorchilin) 19 min

Севернее – только Северный полюс Further North, There Is Only the North Pole (1976, dir. I. Galin) 9 min

Polish documentaries from WFO (Educational Film Studio, Lodz), introduced by Dr Jacek Szymala (University of Wroclaw)

Do Ziemi Torella / To Torell Land (1934, dir. W. Biernawski) 9 min

Szpicbergi / Spitsbergen (1958, dir. J. Brzozowski) 18 min

Wśród gór i dolin Arktyki / Among the Mountains and Valleys of the Arctic (1958-59, dir. W. Puchalski) 14 min


All the films have English subtitles. Everyone is welcome!




4 March 2019, 6pm in room 6.222

  • 1932, 1934, 1966, 1976 | 38 min (unsubtitled)

Далеко на Севере / Far up North (1932) 9 min

На 78й параллели / 78 degrees North (1934) 2 min

За четырьмя морями / Beyond Four Seas (1966) 18 min

Севернее – только Северный полюс / Close to the North Pole (1976) 9 min 

These rare films have been preserved at the Russian State Archive for Documentary Film and Photography, and selected and introduced by the independent exhibition and festival curator Marina Yuzhaninova (Norfest, Moscow)





A two-day workshop "Svalbard and the Humanities", generously funded by the Svalbard Science Forum (SSG/NFR), was held at UiT on 27-28 November 2017 under the auspices of the RSCPR research group. The workshop has inaugurated a new area studies discipline, called Svalbard Studies. See below for the workshop programme. A downloadable attachment with paper abstracts can be found on the right side of this webpage. A publication of the workshop proceedings is planned (published in February 2020 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Svalbard Treaty).


27 November 2017, Humanities Building, room C-1007

10.15 Words of welcome by the organising committee



10.30 Dr Thor Bjørn Arlov (NTNU):

«Maps and Geographical Names as Tokens of National Interests: The Spitsbergen vs Svalbard Case»


Panel 1 Resources, objects and concepts (chaired by Professor Andrei Rogatchevski)

11.30 Dr Dag Avango (KTH, Sweden):

«Industrial Heritage Sites on Svalbard: A Resource for Communities in Transition?»

12.00 Coffee break

12.15 Professor Geir Ulfstein (UiO, appearing by Skype):

«Nationalisation and Internationalisation in the Light of the Svalbard Treaty»

12.45 Dr John Ash (SPRI, University of Cambridge, UK):

«Protein, Pirates and Arctic Politics: Svalbard and Conflict in a Changing Climate»

13.15 Lunch


Panel 2 Practices (chaired by Dr Leonid S. Chekin)

14.15 Professor Aleksandr Portsel (MSTU, Murmansk, Russia):

«The "Poliarnaia kochegarka" (Polar Furnace) Newspaper as a Source on the Soviet Mining on Spitsbergen in the 1930-80s»

14.45 Andrian Vlakhov (RAS Institute of Sociology, Moscow, Russia):

«Russian Settlements on Svalbard in Transition: A Longitudinal Community Study (2013-17)»

15.15 Dr Ulrike Spring (UiO):

«Tourism and Adventure: Cruises to Svalbard in the Late XIX Century»

15.45 Coffee break

16.00 Professor Urban Wråkberg (UiT):

«Tourism Initiatives on Svalbard: A Cultural Perspective»

16.30 Professor Henning Howlid Wærp (UiT):

«Encounters with the Polar Bear in Scandinavian Children’s Literature from Svalbard»


28 November 2017, Humanities Building, room C-1006

Panel 3 Verbal and visual representations (chaired by Dr Dag Avango)

10.00 Dr Leonid S. Chekin (AIRO-XXI, Moscow, Russia):

«Islands and Peninsulas of the Arctic in Medieval Texts and Cartography»

10.30 Jan Martin Berg (Longyearbyen lokalstyre):

«Galleri Svalbard»

11.00 Dr Silje Solheim Karlsen (UiT):

«Coming of Age through Svalbard Adventures»

11.30 Coffee break

11.45 Dr Julia Gerlach (Freie Universität Berlin) and Dr Nadir Kinossian (IFL-Leipzig):

«Cultural Landscape of the Arctic: ‘Recycling’ Soviet Imagery in Barentsburg»

12.15 Dr Elin Kristine Haugdal (UiT):

«Photographs of Barentsburg and Pyramiden, 1950s–1970s»

12.45 Professor Andrei Rogatchevski (UiT):

«Recent Russian Documentaries about Spitsbergen in the Context of Feature Films on the Soviet Exploration of the Arctic»

13.15 Questions, discussion, future plans and recommendations. Conference closure