Border Drift: Norwegian Antarctic Territorial Expansion 1939-2017

Mr Jason Thompson1

1Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn, Estonia

In 1939, King Haakon VII proclaimed that the coast and sea between the British and Australian Antarctic claims will be brought under the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Norway. This new territory, called Dronning Maud Land, differed from its neighbors by not conforming to the common practice of claiming an entire sector of the continent. Even to the present day, precise north and south boundaries have never been defined for Dronning Maud Land. This ambiguity led to multiple ways of cartographically interpreting the limits of the claim over the past century.


This paper will examine political maps of the Antarctic continent created by Norwegian government agencies and maps used by Norwegian media to analyze how the government & people of Norway visualized their Antarctic claim over time. Particular attention will be paid to maps in the Norwegian Polar Institute’s digital archive that best represent the Norwegian government’s view on the extent of their claim as well as maps used by the public broadcaster NRK to report Antarctic news to the citizens of Norway. The results of this study will provide a view into how the Kingdom of Norway’s own interpretation of the extent of Dronning Maud Land evolved over time.


Jason Ryan Thompson is an American Erasmus Mundus Scholar currently studying in an e-governance joint master’s program at KU Leuven in Belgium, the University of Münster in Germany, and the Tallinn University of Technology in Estonia. Previously, he graduated from the University of Tsukuba in Japan where he focused his dissertation research on the historical Antarctic acts of sovereignty of the Kingdom of Norway. He plans to continue research into polar law and the sustainability of the Antarctic Treaty System at the doctoral level following graduation in 2019.

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