The Politics of Presence: The Longyearbyen Dilemma
The large presence of Norwegian citizens in Svalbard has subdued the misperception that Norway’s northernmost territory has an international or internationalized legal status. Now this Norwegian presence in the archipelago is about to change. Amid tumbling coal prices, the state-owned mining company Store Norske is shrunk to a minimum, and no current or proposed business in Longyearbyen has the potential to compensate for the loss of Norwegian workers, in part due to their international character and recruitment policies. This study argues that the likely further dilution of Norwegians in Longyearbyen may ultimately fuel misperceptions about the legal status of Svalbard and pose new foreign and security policy challenges to Norway.