Anna Karlsdóttir

Anna Karlsdóttir, Senior Research Fellow, Nordregio – Nordic Centre for Spatial Development

Email: anna.karlsdottir@nordregio.se

Urbanization and the role of housing in the present development process in the Arctic

Urban lifestyles have become dominant in the Arctic. Today more than 70% of the population in the Arctic are living in urban settings, and consequently housing issues and dynamics are now gaining increasing importance in connection with the development process in the Arctic.
While village life has often been connected with relatively simple housing facilities, town and city life is much more demanding, both with regards to types of housing, and to the organization of infrastructure and organisations to manage it. The villages have experienced a diminishing population. The concentration of the population in towns and cities in the Arctic, have contributed with many topics of relevance to the studies of the housing sector.

The importance of the housing sector has been emphasized in the Arctic Council working group on Sustainable Development by recognizing that housing issues not only relates to the general characteristics of the living conditions in the Arctic, but at the same time are crucial in relation to both health and community viability issues. Similarly the importance of the sector has been identified in connection with the working group’s project on Social Indicators.

Thus the housing sector has become one of the most important issues in relation to the socio-economic policy on both national and municipal level all over the Arctic. The Arctic has had its own part of the financial boom characterised by rising prizes on properties and housing. But the aftermath, the global economic crisis, has also had its influence on the Arctic. Though the global financial crisis is affecting the Arctic housing markets differently, it is of great importance to map the different case scenarios of Greenland, Iceland, Faroe Islands and Northwest Russia in a comparative study, in order to contribute to a sustainable future in an Arctic housing market struck by the crisis.

Research Field and Areas: Urban Geography, Arctic,  planning, demography and financial landscape

Project Partners: Dr. Ludmila Zalkind, Apatity research center, Murmansk, Russia, Sören Bitsch, Geography, Roskilde University, Samal Jóhansen, rigsarkivet, Faroe Islands, Johanna Roto, Nordregio, Stockholm.

Gendered outcome of socio-economic transformation processes

Demographic dynamics are imminent in societal changes. However, recent research on work related mobility and regional development indicate that translocal commodity chains have changed formations of class and gender to an extent that spatial constructions of belonging have not only become more complex in local communities but are also,  to an increased extent the main deciding factor in women´s reflective decision-making process on where to live. The project explores the reasoning related to women’s choice of living and working, across functional occupations, age and educational background, in a small peripheral village in North East Iceland. The community aspect is crucial in this respect. How do they perceive their own function and embeddedness in the community? Economic and occupational restructuring has been a continuous process in many coastal communities around the Atlantic Ocean for decades. In the last two decades changes in coastal communities are also closely tied to the exclusion of rights to access fishing resources which have lead to a radical change in living conditions in some of those fishery districts (Lowe and Carothers 2008, Neis 2005). This exclusion operates through the denial of essential services, such as road maintenance and schools, and families are pressured to relocate to other areas (Davis and Gerrard 2000). In post-collapsed Iceland, fishery communities, though less affected by the boom-period, are experiencing the grim aftermath of the financial crisis by loss of jobs as an effect of major cutbacks of public expenditure to health and education.  How are these processes impacting the regional and gendered social structure and mobility patterns? The project was initiated in 2009 and was completed summer 2011.

Research Field and Areas: Regional geography, gender and migration, sociology

Project Partners: EDDA, Auður H Ingólfsdóttir Environmental scientist, Bifröst University college.

Presentations and publications