Header image.

Anna Obukhova: PhD project

Title: “Svalbard through the prism of Russian media. A discourse and cognitive perspective”

Supervisors: Laura A. Janda, Tore Nesset


The permanent economic and scientific presence of Russia and Norway in the Svalbard archipelago involves both cooperation and diplomatic tensions. The purpose of this thesis is to contribute to clarifying the Russian view of Svalbard by examining Russian media perceptions of the archipelago. The study covers a sample of Russian mainstream federal and north-western regional media outlets and investigates articles published between 2010 and 2021. The textual data is approached from the perspective of Critical Discourse Analysis and Cognitive Linguistics with quantitative and qualitative methods: Market Basket Analysis, Keymorph Analysis, and Metaphor Analysis. The thesis has shown that Russian media perceptions of Svalbard can be interpreted as aligned with promotion and defense of Russian interests in the archipelago. The federal media consistently appeal to events related to official Russian-Norwegian relations. The coverage of Svalbard by these media shows a clear shift over time: the discussion of interaction and cooperation between the countries is replaced after 2013 by a decline in this discussion and the emergence of topics of sanctions and securitization. The regional media offer a more moderate view of Svalbard, neglecting to address major political, often negative, events involving Russia and Norway in a prominent way. However, the regional media may focus attention on such events when it comes to protecting the economic interests of the Russian northwestern regions in Svalbard. The greater interest of the regional media in science in comparison with the federal media can be interpreted as an orientation towards the promotion of Russian scientific presence in the archipelago. Both types of media view Svalbard as a label, a passive entity, a destination, and the site of certain activities. From the geopolitical perspective, Svalbard is represented, for example, as a location tightly connected to Russia, the site of cooperation and tough competition among countries, mostly Russia and Norway, and a crucial point for controlling access to the Arctic.

Defense: May 31, 2024

Available at MUNIN: https://munin.uit.no/handle/10037/33510

Comments are closed.