Alix Varnajot’s PhD Defense

August 24th, 2020

Rethinking Arctic tourism: tourists’ practices and perceptions of the Arctic in Rovaniemi.



What is ‘Arctic’ in ‘Arctic tourism’? What makes the distinction between ‘Arctic tourism’ and ‘tourism in the Arctic’? Can we set and designate boundaries for Arctic tourism and can we find a consensus for its definition? This study explores these questions by investigating tourists’ practices and representations of the Arctic at the moment of crossing the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi.

In his thesis, Varnajot offers a reconceptualization of Arctic tourism, not solely based on a spatial perspective, but also grounded in tourists’ experiences. It is argued that for future smart and more responsible practices, Arctic tourism, both as a segment and as a concept, should be understood as fluid in time and space, adapting to the dynamic nature of the Arctic and its myriad of cultures, rather than being locked in stereotypical images, products and activities.

Published in: Nordia Geographical Publications (access thesis here)

Defense date: Friday 4 September 2020 at 15:00 EEST.

Location: University of Oulu, Finland (livestreamed on Zoom).

Supervisor: Prof. Jarkko Saarinen, University of Oulu.

Opponent: Prof. Dallen Timothy, Arizona State University.


The thesis includes one article co-authored with other REXSAC members Vesa-Pekka Herva (Oulu University) and Albina Pashkevich (Dalarna University).


Photo: Alix Varnajot