Posts Tagged ‘Oxford’

Read Full Post »

pin gpin tpin ecuppin q

Oxford University, 26-27 September @

Rothermere American Institute (RAI), Oxford, UK

Website contact
Arctic Conference Programme



main What an honor once again to see Willy [William L. Iggiagruk] Hensley, Native leader extraordinaire, with whom I interacted while working in Washington, DC, for the State of Alaska. Also in attendance, Tom Thorton, Michael Bravo, and Richard Powell, all highly talented arctic anthropologists/geographers working at Oxford/Cambridge with whom I was able catch up on all the exciting activities they are involved in.

photo 2Delightful new folks who I had not met before, from the policy world and academic life. Pamela Strigo, Political Officer, High Commission of Canada, enlightened us, ensuring that the Government of Canada is resting safely in capable administrative hands. The talented Dr. Chanda L. Meek, U Alaska, discussed the ins and outs of Alaska policy, surrounding federal state relations among other topics.

Evan T. Bloom, Director, Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs, US Department of State, spoke with great candor, and we were grateful. Mininnguaq Kleist, Head of Department, Department of Foreign Affairs, Government of Greenland (Naalakkersuisut), from whom we learned a great deal about the direction of Greenlandic rule in the North. I should not fail to mention business persons, including Guy Yeomans, consultant on strategic foresight research into the futures of the Arctic, and with whom I had the opportunity to trade notes over lunch about enframing the future.

moreYes. Indeed. All in all, speaking on behalf of those in attendance (if I may), we arrived with high expectations — and, in fact, we departed ever more interested and enlightened in our projects, whether policy, academic, or business. With pleasure in redundancy: a warm thanks once again to the organizers, Nigel Bowles, Director RAI, Halbert Jones, Senior Research Fellow, U Oxford, and Dawn Berry, newly minted PhD, U Oxford. Thank You!

Oh, and a book in the offing as an outcome of the event, and we plan to report, so stay tuned!

photo op



9/27 Second Day After Coffee: Okay. Well, now we are talking about the future of the Arctic. Mihaela David, Fellow, Arctic Institute, is talking about infrastructure potentials. Bill Graham, former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, then National Defense, up now summarizing in the wonderful way only he knows how, having presided over yesterday evening’s dinner. Development and security. How do we see development, Graham talking now, speaking of the concept of orderly development.

Final talks of the day

Evan Bloom, Director, Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs, US Department of State, Arctic Polar Diplomat. Began working with Arctic issues around 1995, Ottawa declaration. Within the US, extraordinary increase in Arctic matters in Washington, DC, amount of energy, attention, climate, shipping — over time, a smaller group in various federal agencies moving into direct interest via the White House, end of Bush Administration, Arctic Policy, fundamentals are not particularly partisan.

ceilingWith Obama admin., the Bush policy document was relevant, within a few years, it was steady, but there was the feeling at some point, thus, the [recent] Arctic Strategy was released by White House, not instead of the policy, but merges with it, setting priorities, stewardship, international cooperation, sustainability — not surprising.

An interagency policy group, a White House policy group, Secretary of State going to the Arctic Council, a symbol of interest.

Role of Indigenous, very important role on the workings of Arctic Council, and from a personal side of things, agreeable with John English‘s presentation yesterday (on founding of Arctic Council). High Level Forum. US reticence about the Council has moved toward enthusiasm about what it is doing, in environment for example, and security issues.

National security interest (national security agencies involved) Council is changing from what it is looking at, and not only more observers.

photoNow, the US is taking on the second chairmanship. Now the office is having a domestic secretariat (working with the Tromsø office) — developing the right themes that the US wants to promote. Talking a lot with Canadians about synergies. Arctic Council may be important for diplomacy, but there are other treaties and conventions that are playing a role about governance in the Arctic.

Extended Continental Shelf. Seismic and etc. on submissions, and spending the kind of money for scientific research as if we really want to make determination commitments. Boundaries — Beaufort Sea boundary with Canada. Several meetings with Canada among experts to begin thinking about what should be discussed.

menA new task force on Science cooperation at the Arctic Council. A lot of attention about observers to the Council, interest of non-Arctic states. Parts of Academia like to look at the Arctic and explore potential for security problems.

Our fundamental attitude is that this is a region of cooperation not conflict. One must be ready to deal with all possibilities, but working well with Russians (scientists, etc). And this is because territorial control under national authority. It is an area of non-conflict.

Alan Kessel, Deputy High Commissioner of Canada in United Kingdom. New shipping routes, do we want this? Resource grab. Arctic nations entitled to resources and sure, go ahead. People in the Arctic want to exploit it in an environmentally sound way. Is there an arms race? Another bogey man over whether is or not. Myths? How to bring the reality to bear.

No legal vacuum as far as we are concerned. Sure, can be tweaked, but no norm setting at this point. Ilulissat Declaration — littoral states have a specific legal obligation to point out — no legal vacuum — Ottawa Declaration.

Beaufort Sea, we plan to resolve and commitment to work together. Polar Code.  A structure and environment where there are hard rules for traveling in the Arctic. Some countries with interest in ship building, want to know what kinds of ships to build based on the regulatory Canadian interest.

backMininnguaq Kleist, Director, Premier’s Office, Government of Greenland. Arctic strategies, and important list of agreements and descriptions of Home Rule, rights, industrial development, cooperations (EU), Arctic-Five.

Wrap up: Very strong panel, with a lot of openness on potentially sensitive questions, chatham house rule.

Hal with the last word…
A personal word of thanks to co-conveners, Nigel and Dawn, a thanks to Warden Margaret and staff — bringing the conference to a close and there’s dinner(!).

[fabulous presentations! Far exceeding expectations, ed. 🙂 ]

candledinnerdinner eaten
9/27 Second Day: Margaret MacMillan, Warden, St. Anthony’s College, now introducing Richard Powell, Lecturer, U Oxford in geography, and Chanda Meek, Assistant Prof., U Alaska.

Richard is up now talking about Greenland. The re-imagining of Greenland through various political economic orders. Relations to Mineral continue to influence Greenlandic politics.

Chanda is up now. American Federalism in a rapidly changing Arctic. With fast pace of Arctic policy development, the state of Alaska requires to work with federal partners.

Oh. Now we have up Willy Hensley giving a plenary. Opens up with commentary in Inupiaq, and now translating for us, very warm generous greeting indeed, thanking his audience for the opportunity to speak.

Speaking frankly about the historical conditions of colonial development — and recursively demonstrating by citing the invitation to the conference, that governance at a distance is a colonial condition creating normative attitudes of exclusion (faraway governments and people steeped in personal gain). Fabulous historical account of the Russian occupation, and the context of socialization on the one hand, and disenfranchisement from land and self on the other.

Willy really has outdone himself on this talk, a combination of presentation-calm, adopting the manner of science presentation aesthetics, presenting deliberately with attention to fact, and at the same time, speaking in first person about events, lays out a chilling genealogy of scientific indifference, blundering and justification, among other caste-like appropriations of the local on behalf of being modern. drinkshandwristwristingshot
9/26 Later that First Day after coffee break: Both Dawn B. and Shelagh G. gave very strong talks, so interesting, on historical accounts of North American developments, Shelagh going back several hundred years, and Dawn talking about post war definitions of Greenland. Fabulous. James K. also, very strong, talking about United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea relating to determinations of governance over ice classifications. All three speakers relate the Arctic to sovereign legal and political modalities, combined with particular techniques (military installations, occupations) that enforce territorial control.

John English, U Toronto, Plenary Session.

Speaking on Origins of Arctic Council. Including…

The Murmansk Speech (Gorbachev):  nuclear free zone in Europe, nuclear free zone in Arctic, joint development of arctic energy resources, establishment of arctic research council, integrated plan to protect northern environment, opening of northern sea route to foreign traffic. Establishment of Indigenous voice on the Arctic Council — permanent participatory status.


9/26 First Day: Nigel Bowles, Director, Rothermere American Institute (RAI), with generous welcoming remarks and thanking Halbert Jones and Dawn Berry. Established twelve years ago, with an opening by Bill Clinton, to create a greater understanding through comparative work on various issues ranging from post-colonialism to elections in the Americas.

A conference perfectly tailored to RAI, and attendees, thereafter, have an open invitation to return for conference attendance and other activity. A long list of thank-yous to various policy and government centered folks (US State Department) among others. Governance of a changing space, partly fluid, in part by how US, Canada, Denmark, and Greenland, are shaped by their past, looking north (US Canada), or east (Greenland, Denmark).

entranceHalbert Jones, Panel Chair, starting up here now, with the first set of speakers, Shelagh Grant, Trent U, Dawn Berry,  James Kraska, Duke U — Inspiration: North American Arctic, chairmanship of Arctic Council, moving from Europe to North America. Is there a particular set of North American interests to the Arctic, and if so, are there differences between Canada and US, and suggesting that the space of Arctic is both remote from national space of interest, but also undergoing great change, in North America in particular, complicated and shaped by federal systems in place that define sovereign issues across state and local, Native jurisdictions, that reside in these lands.

foggyWe wanted to look at all these issues from a variety of different levels from interdisciplinary approaches, and also in the historical context, which has resulted in this particular panel, on the historical. Distinctly connects and divides the North American Arctic.

Up now is Dr. Grant, written several books, including Polar Imperative History on Arctic Sovereignty; followed by Dr. Berry, just this week completed her PhD here at Oxford (applause) and finally Dr. Kraska.

Shelagh Grant up now. Arctic governance and the relevance of history, talking about enforcement of boundaries. Defining the Arctic, various approaches, scientific, cartographic, population settlement. Denmark, 1747 colonization of South Greenland, 1782 government took over sovereign control, Russian control over Alaska, 1789, Russian American Company provided charter (defining sovereignty over territory).governing

Manifest Destiny — American purchase of Alaska 1867, triggers British response by pressuring Canada to annex High North. By late 19th century, Polar discovery had become an industry, where newspapers could garner attention from polar headlines. So, actually, laying claims in the Canadian Arctic, requires expeditions to the Arctic Islands, thus, resuming on annual expeditions. US encroaches and Canada pushes back, establishing sites. By 1930s, Canada secures Arctic archipelago territories.

Permanent Joint Board of Defense (US-Canada agreement for cross border developments). Arctic Defense during the Cold War proliferated. Oil discovery on Prudhoe Bay increases pressure on Canada to continue to support its sovereignty. 1977 creation of Inuit Circumpolar Conference/Council. Creation of Arctic Council 1986. In conclusion, oil tanker traffic in Sea Route, increasing farther than expected (Russia), by comparison, Canada’s greatest challenge will be to convince international community that its waters are internal waters, and thus transportation would be governed by sovereign regulation.

early meetingDawn Berry, begins with a quote from FDR, on where is Greenland? Is Greenland North America? A panel several years ago at Oxford, asking the question, responds, culturally/geographically North American, politically European. Even on Maps, Greenland looks all over the map, sometimes in North America, sometimes in Europe.

Is there a particularly North American way of governing? Also from whose perspective.

tower1940-1941, Greenland becomes American.  The Denmark-United States agreement for the Defense of Greenland (April 1941).

Allows installation of military bases on Greenland by Americans. 1916, the now US Virgin Islands, in order to purchase by the US from Denmark, had to extinguish all claim to Greenland.

Why did it change?

By the 1940s, Monroe Doctrine, new interest in the continent, technological advances in flight, prior to 1930s could not land on the ice cap, but after the 1940s, it became “within range” of the United States, and then, Occupation of Denmark, by both Germans and Americans.

Western Hemisphere — European power no longer have the right to occupy Americas (Monroe Doctrine 1823) — US not ruled by a King, with the promise that other New World were guaranteed support.

Monroe Doctrine not geographical or legal, but a political concept that triggers under national interest, security conditions. For this reason, technological advances in flight, weather predictions in Greenland.

widechurch2Roosevelt and Public Opinion.

Does the Greenland belong in the Monroe Doctrine, the press wanted to know, and the response FDR gave was to support the Greenlanders, and that Americans would want to extend their political support for Greenland. Making the North national. Making it part of a doctrine. Military bases, actual physical infrastructure in place. Government installations.

foldersJames Kraska, Development of rules for ice covered areas in the Arctic. 1970s to 1980 negotiations, some of the events that unfolded. The primary interest of Canada’s interest to think of itself as an Arctic archipelago. Vessel source pollution, adopting Arctic Waters Pollution Act 1970.

US a leader in Port State control, management of marine shipping, a unilateral move that Canada was following. Both Canada and US sought to avoid a grand battle over freedom of the seas on the one hand, and the governing over near shore areas. Article 234 Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS) — Coastal state and international community, rights of innocent passage by international community. Prescription and enforcement jurisdiction, requested by Canada.

ricUS government joined by Ministries of transport and defense in Canada in discomfort for enforcement jurisdiction (the latter losing out).

Discussion: Article 234, the Canada exception or Arctic exception, authority over the sea is not exercised in the middle of the ocean, the rights flow from the land, and sovereignty from land. So the issue of Arctic ice raises a question. Polar Code IMO.

Coffee Break.


I had the opportunity of noticing various tabby pins worn by some of our more distinguished guests.

The concept of the pin captures one’s attention.

Much like a PhD — the pin reflects a small acronym, representative of something grand, a symbol in miniature of all the exists on behalf of identification.

Signatures of Insignia


Last word[images]



Read Full Post »

London town

Oxford Street

12/6: I just cannot say more wonderful things about London, what a fabulous town. As much as I was required to complete a proposal for a deadline, turn in a few academic applications, work on a revised article due tomorrow (yikes!), I still managed to get out and travel on my way to various spots, hopping in on the goings on, at Christmas time especially, with so many lights and happy revelers.

The days were quite standard from the beginning. Waking up, heading down for English Breakfast (₤ 10), grabbing my computer and heading to the lounge, working while peering out through the window at the representative city scape.

cityscape through windowI cannot recall now when it was, perhaps the second day, but by 2PM, I had intended to travel over to 61 New Cavendish Street in order to participate in the IFEG quarterly meeting.

I am on the committee of Information For Energy Group or IFEG. The Group is part of the Institute for Energy here in London, and I believe I have written in detail on this very blog about IE during my last visit.

At any rate, we typically organize a variety of seminars and workshops having to do with information about, well, primarily oil and gas developments, and in particular, how access to information may take place, through various libraries at petroleum companies, on the internet, and the like.

And the Committee members are sincere. What a pleasure to be in their company. Emily Heath, IFEG Secretary was as sparkling as ever. Catherine Cosgrove, the ever present librarian was in good form, as was Greville Williams, IHS Asset manager. Energy Institute New Cavendish

The meetings are quite formal actually. We have an agenda with “minutes” from the previous meeting that have to be discussed and approved. Then, of course, we move on to larger issues of the day, what visits and seminars IFEG plans to organize. On March 14, for example, there will be a visit to the Isle of Grain Liquefied Natural Gas terminal and in June a visit to the Dungeness B nuclear power station. I will certainly be in London for those visits.

energy instituteWe also had a lively discussion about virtual and seminar networks and the IFEG membership. In fact, now that I recall, I joined one of the break out groups for having a seminar on “Energy Blogging”. So we shall see where that takes us and I plan to report back soon on the IFEG members.

Well, I had the opportunity of once again visiting the offices of the global energy consultancy firm, UGR (pseudonym), and to discuss the possibility of spending time with them working on Arctic gas developments. Boy, was I surprised at the kind of data they have access to and are capable of building a pricing structure around. Indeed. One of the issues we discussed in fact, was confidentiality surrounding dissemination and sharing of data, and even the possibility of establishing standards for future UGR-academic relationships. Overall, I was pleased with the meeting, very much so.


UGR organization


insideIt looks like I will have to get up and get on an airplane for Norway. Well, that was London. I expect to return shortly, for a number of visits that could not happen this time, including a scheduled meeting with a Statoil higher up, through a connection in Norway. But what a great town!street subway oxford Nordic bakery

12/5: London Diptych: Organizational and Serendipitous Forms.

dyptich 1 Dyptich 2Earlier this year, in April, I had the opportunity to visit an energy consulting firm, UGR (pseudonym). Upon entering the building, my attention was arrested by the personal image of the front desk person, dressed as she was in a smart hair-bun, posturepedic grace, and so on. But evidently, I was mistaken.

When I arrived today, I saw nearly the same image of the person, and realized that the front desk attire is a constant expression of the outward form of the building itself, its assertion of identity to the passersby.

Earlier in the year, at the same time the first image was taken, I met with Arctic landscape photographist and travelry specialist, Nick Cobbing, at Nordic Bakery, located in Golden Square, approx. 7 minutes walk from Oxford Street station. CobbingHere is a map of how to get there from the tube station:

directions to Nordic Bakery

By chance, we decided to meet once again, today in December, in the afternoon. And as serendipity would have us, we found ourselves in the same seating arrangement as when we chatted previously, in April.

Cobbing 2

12/3: Just blew into the Central Park Hotel, near Paddington Station opposite Hyde Park. London looks fabulous, great weather, the same as Berkeley actually, a little damp, crisp with a slight breeze. Let us hope that it holds up over the next several days.

heathrow trainArriving at Heathrow could not have been simpler. I usually take the tube, but at the bottom of the escalator, after passport control and just before baggage claim, salespersons were calling out tickets to Paddington aboard the direct train connection, for ₤ 52 first class round trip,  + another ₤ 5 for taxi from Paddington to the hotel — 25 minutes later– and here I am with a latte, already getting together a final draft of the National Science revision proposal sent back to Maria Stoilkova at U. Florida, who is waiting for me to complete the final touches.

Read Full Post »

No. 1 — Technology Transfer …

My current research in northern Europe and Russia, an approach different from what I undertook for the North American Arctic, began from email exchanges with the Russian natural gas guru, Director of Oxford Energy Institute, Jonathan Stern.

Actually, prior to this — as my initial purpose for contacting Stern — I stumbled across a curious set of quotes from his early work on the Russian natural gas industry development written during the late 1980s — fascinating for according to Stern’s telling, the corporeal body of Western expertise remained in “the West”.

And it transfixes because of the question the sentence raises: what form of Western expertise circulates into Russia on the topic of natural gas development prior to the 1990s, if it is not the body of the Western expert?

Stern states:

As far as the Soviet domestic industry is concerned, I would suggest that the Soviet authorities will be extremely reluctant to allow Western Personnel on Soviet soil, particularly for a project such as the construction of a large-scale pipeline” (124).

Today, Western experts travel through into Russia — on Soviet soil — and provide advice on various concerns of the natural gas industry. The corporeality of Western expertise, the actual body of the natural gas energy expert is the topic of my research, and its circulation within Russia. For this reason, I became fascinated by the kind of language used by Stern, to describe the circulation of Western expertise into Russia — without the body of the expert. Here are some examples:

It is argued that irrespective of current technology transfer, however, ‘more American exploration and exploration equipment for maximal development of the Samotlor fields in West Siberia and potential reserves in East Siberia onshore and offshore may be a critical requirement” (152, emphasis mine).

and again,

There are certain key areas in which Western technology does play an important role. For the gas industry, straight purchase of large-diameter pipe and compressor station units continue to be of immense importance…” (150, emphasis mine).


The imported technology and hard currency that such development would contribute to the Soviet economy was one incentive, and this was backed by the realization that, without Western assistance, ten to fifteen years would be added to the lead times for bringing the east Siberian deposits into projection” (117, emphasis mine).

In the following quotes, notice the emphasis on material technology transfer:

Italy has been receiving Soviet gas since 1974 in return for steel pipe deliveries from [the company] Findsider” (105, emphasis mine).

Many Western contractors are involved in the project, with much of the pipe coming from West Germany and Japan” (78, emphasis mine).

It is doubtful whether Soviet capacity to manufacture large-diameter pipe can expand at a sufficiently rapid rate to meet the increasing demand. The inference must be that in the future, as in the past, they will rely to a large extent on imports of these materials from the West” (74, emphasis mine).

All the gas currently exported to Western Europe is in exchange for deliveries of pipeline and gas field equipment” (49, emphasis mine).

In Short

      • technology transfer
      • key areas [of] Western technology
      • imported technology
      • Western assistance
      • steel pipe deliveries
      • pipe coming from West Germany and Japan
      • materials from the West
      • deliveries of pipeline and gas field equipment

…without the body.

No. 2 — To Paddington Station …

I remember quite distinctly the several hours before my first meeting with Jonathan, when we had just flown into London. A driver from Howard Swiss Hotel met us at the airport. Through to London, we passed the cheaper bed and breakfasts recalling my previous visits, either alone, with friends or with my father and now grateful that on this trip I was released from those shoddy rooms.

Settled, we walked up Victoria embankment along the river, past Cleopatra’s needle, then up through Trafalgar Square past the national museum through Piccadilly Circus and through China town, before finding a British pub for dinner. From there we walked through Covent Garden back to the Swissotel. The town was buzzing. A hot afternoon. We among the throng. I wondered how OS would respond to the crowds and architecture. There was no difference between our conversations from the office. A changed environment but still speaking about the same issues. Didn’t sleep much, waking at 4AM, watching a film.

We walked over the millennium bridge, past the Tate Modern Museum along the river to breakfast at the Roast on Stoney Rd. a recommendation from the Concierge.  Here is where our trip began. I could say that it began earlier, when the night before we departed, and instead of working in the office, we drove into P., having dinner on CB. But it was in the Roast, having coffee after breakfast, that I began to express my underlying motivations about the trip. That I began to unpack the style of my thinking about what expectations I did not have concerning research, data, and meetings with professionals.

I suggested that we were focusing on method, and especially our method. Learning was not important, or not as important as reflecting on our expectations about the context of learning and representing knowledge. That is, how up to that point, we could say: we flew, we rested and now we would be in meetings. But how instead, we had talked ourselves into a frenzy about what things could and could not possibly mean, and therefore, how the spaces in between the so-called real events could sink the entire project, and that I would like to see things nearly sink, because of my desire to emphasize everything.

We left breakfast toward the Tate Modern, and discovered the time was overdue, and we needed to head back to the hotel to prepare for our appointment with J. S.

We were seated in Café Rizzata at Paddington Station, and J. S. came up to shake our hands, and then stated he would grab something to drink from the vendor. As I watched him at the counter, I reminded myself that I had carried out this exact scene hundreds of times—meeting with someone to discuss my project. What is my project? The meeting itself, an experimental exchange in which a guest is invited to share some thoughts for which there is no determined outcome, and no result.

Which raises several points that OS and I talked about for the next 2 hours, after the end of the meeting. And then again in particular, during dinner over ramen with chopsticks and on the way back to the hotel past the millennium bridge where we decided to grab the last call on the embankment looking across the River Thames.

In a conversation between Shatov and Nikolai Stavrogin from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Demons, Shatov states: “Can’t I see by your face that you’re at grips with some awesome new thought?”

He continues, explaining to Stavrogin, about the power of an expression used by the latter several years before: “there was a teacher uttering immense words, and there was a disciple who rose from the dead. I am that disciple and you are the teacher.” Shatov continues: “It is hard to change gods. I did not believe you then because I did not want to believe… but the seed [the idea] remained and grew” (emphasis mine).

Stavrogin replies in various ways: “I was not joking with you then, either; in persuading you, I was perhaps more concerned with myself than with you.”  Stavrogin again: “If I had a belief, I would no doubt repeat it now as well; I wasn’t lying, speaking as a believer…but I assure you that this repetition of my past thoughts produces an all too unpleasant impression on me.” And finally, “On the contrary, with your ardent words you’ve revived many extremely powerful recollections in me. I recognize in your words my own state of mind two years ago…[which]…even seems to me that they were still more exceptional, still more absolute….”

I met with Jonathan two weeks later in Oslo, at the Petrosams workshop sponsored by the Research Council of Norway, and then nearly six months later at Holmenkollen, at the Oslo Energy Forum. Prior to all of these meetings, but certainly after reading his books, we had several exchanges over email where my topic of Western expertise in Russia began to take shape.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: