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Material Talk: The Arctic Continental Shelf in the Law of the Sea Convention Discussion of the United States

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AbstractThe legal status of a large area of the Arctic seafloor is currently being redefined as the rapid melting of polar ice is enabling the exploitation and study of resource-rich underwater areas. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea contains legal rules for establishing exploitation rights to the newly accessible seafloor. The United States has not joined the Law of the Sea Convention but may be legally entitled to areas of the Arctic seafloor, which has caused an upsurge of political discussion among U.S. political elites. In this article, I examine the process by which Arctic seafloor and ice come to influence policy discussion in the United States. I highlight the way in which material policy influence can be treated as historical rather than monocausal by using new materialist theory.

Affiliations: 1: university of


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