Spitsbergen Literature Lobby


  • Mary Katherine Jones UiT




Arctic – Spitsbergen – Svalbard – Spitsbergen Question – Spitsbergen sovereignty – Spitsbergen Literature Lobby – Spitsbergen Commission – Paris Peace Conference.


The Spitsbergen (Svalbard) Question became an international political issue regarding the terra nullius status of the Arctic region in the light of growing commercial enterprise undertaken from 1898 onwards. The Spitsbergen Commission set up by the Peace Conference in Paris to resolve this question in the aftermath of the Great War awarded sovereignty to Norway. Elen C. Singh’s concept of the Spitsbergen Literature Lobby illustrates behind-the-scenes activity intent on resolving Spitsbergen sovereignty in favour of one particular nation, and/or securing the commercial interests of several nations. Documents analysed in this article include the initial Norwegian Government submission to the Peace Conference and the contemporaneous diary of one of its main compilers; Spitsbergen Literature Lobby texts cited by Singh, and other strategic texts published 1906-1919; and selected Spitsbergen texts published in the light of Norwegian sovereignty. Subject matter comprised Spitsbergen summaries, history (including Spitsbergen bibliographies), cartography, legal/political issues and commercial issues. The specific and general influence of the lobby and the expertise of its constituent authors is examined, as are their individual and collaborative literary efforts, as well as the rationale behind the selection of strategic texts and a summary of their time-scale, location and language of publication.

Author Biography

Mary Katherine Jones, UiT

Mary Katherine Jones is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History and Religion at The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø, analysing depictions of Spitsbergen (Svalbard) in European scientific journals published 1895-1920. Published articles to date have focused on this topic and international media coverage of the Russian flag-planting at the North Pole in 2007. She has a M.Sc. (Research) in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Edinburgh, was an associate member of the Arctic Discourses research project, and is currently affiliated to Narrating the High North and the GovArc network for Arctic-related social science research in Tromsø.




How to Cite

Jones, Mary Katherine. 2014. “Spitsbergen Literature Lobby”. Nordlit, no. 32 (July):33-69. https://doi.org/10.7557/13.3070.