Inaugural lecture of our new monthly Lecture Series programme by Prof Sari Pietikäinen

Please join us for the inaugural lecture of our new monthly Lecture Series programme! The first lecture will take place Monday, 8 November from 12-2pm at Tellus Backstage. Professor of Discourse Studies Sari Pietikäinen (University of Jyväskylä) will give her talk entitled "Cold Rush: Discourse Economy of Arctic Natural Resources". Snacks and refreshments will be provided after the lecture, and there will be plenty of time to mingle.

This lecture kicks off our Talking ANTS Lecture Series, in which renowned international scholars from across disciplines present their work to the Biodiverse Anthropocenes members and the wider university. We want to encourage all members to join these monthly events to welcome our guest speakers and mingle with fellow members. A full programme for the coming year will soon be up on the Biodiverse Anthropocenes website.

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Tellus Backstage

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Professor of Discourse Studies Sari Pietikäinen (University of Jyväskylä) will give her talk entitled "Cold Rush: Discourse Economy of Arctic Natural Resources".


Sari Pietikäinen works as a professor of Discourse Studies at the department of Language and Communication, University of Jyväskylä. Her research interests include discourse, power and political, economic and cultural transformations of commons, identities and knowledge. Working with a transdisciplinary framework, that draws on critical discourse studies, critical sociolinguistics, anthropology and political economy, she has directed several ethnographic research projects on Arctic transformations, including Northern Multilingualism (SA 2008-2011), Multilingualism and Periphery (SA 2011-2015) and Cold Rush (SA 2016-2021). She also has a longstanding interest in transformation and translation of scientific knowledge into other modalities and practices, including art, blueprints and training (for example see Her latest publications include Uusi kurssi kohti diskurssia (vastapaino 2019), Critical Sociolinguistic research methods (Routledge 2019, with Monica Heller and Joan Pujolar), Power by Assemblage: Language for Multiplicity (2021 International Journal of Sociology of Language).


Arctic natural resources lie at the confluence of ecological change, economic investments and cultural transformation. The present-day Cold Rush, the race for Arctic natural resources echo those of the Gold Rush in the 19th and 20th centuries, as the growth of resource extraction, transportation and tourism industries on the “last resource frontier” surges, bringing an influx and increasing circulation of economic and human capital and ecological risks (Pietikäinen 2021a). As opportunities for exploitation of Arctic natural resources appear, new tensions of and possibilities for commodification of newly valued resources are emerging. In this talk, I want to explore further the processes of re-valuation of Arctic natural resources. In the context of Cold Rush, Arctic natural resources undergo intertwined ecological, political, economic and social transformations that imbue them with different values. I suggest that the constellations creating new values for Arctic natural resources can productively be seen as an assemblage: a multi-temporal, heterogenous arrangement of discourses, materialities, bodies, and affects, powered by desires and influenced by capitalist transformations (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, Pietikäinen 2021b). Furthermore, re-valuing Arctic natural resources can be seen as an outcome of dynamic processes of discourse economy of commons: a shifting, emergent system of re-valuation of the natural resources for a range of needs, interests and desires. The discourse economy of the commons is firmly grounded in the past, present, and potential value of natural resources and as such, it maps onto complex relationships of power structures, land governance, traditional knowledge, global markets, and mobility. This approach highlights both the complex historical, political, ecological and economic processes that create possibilities and tensions for the commodification of the commons as well as the discursive work needed in these transformations. It provides one way to examine processes through which the commons come to be constituted as things of value.

Deleuze, Gilles & Félix Guattari. 1980/1987. A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Pietikäinen, Sari. 2021a "Powered by assemblage: language for multiplicity" International Journal of the Sociology of Language, vol. 2021, no. 267-268, 2021, pp. 235-240.

Pietikäinen, Sari. 2021b. Assemblage of art, discourse and ice hockey: Designing knowledge about work. Journal of Sociolinguistics. 2021; 00: 000– 000.

Last updated: 13.10.2021