April 16, 2021
UCalgary Political Science Congratulates Robert Clifton
Robert Clifton has received a 2020–21 University of Calgary Graduate Studies Scholarship!
Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you chose to do your MA in the Dept. of Political Science at the University of Calgary?
I’m a budding researcher on the topic of arctic security and politics. I chose to do my MA here because of the presence of (my now supervisor) Dr. Rob Huebert in the department, as well as for the University of Calgary’s status as a hub for scholarly arctic research. The school also hosts, on campus, the Writing Symbols Lodge, the Arctic Institute of North America, as well as the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies—all of which make the University of Calgary a good place for studying all things Arctic.
You're in midst of your MA thesis right now. What is it called and what is it about?
“The Franklin Expedition’s Purpose in Contemporary Canadian Arctic Security.” It’s a working title.
In 2014, the Harper government announced the discovery of the ship HMS Erebus, the first of the two fabled Franklin Expedition ships to be found. The mystery and tragedy that surrounds the lost Franklin Expedition of 1845 has influenced how many Canadians understand the arctic. My study aims to see what role (if any) the symbolic narrative—and more recent search for the Franklin ships—had in how the Harper Government communicated and pursued its arctic security/sovereignty goals.
Stories and symbols are powerful tools that can help societies to understand and shape, the world around them, build consensus, and establish identities and practices. There are a lot of interrelated and ‘hot topic’ issues (and stories!) related to arctic security nowadays: Climate Change, Indigenous Sovereignty, Human Security, the return of Great Power competition, the legal status of the Northwest Passage, and many more.
I hope for my research to bring further understanding of the relationship between our stories, symbols, and conceptualization of security, particularly Canadian arctic security.
Any plans for after your MA you’d like to share?
I have a few ideas and have held a few information-gathering interviews with civil servants in departments related to my field, but I’m admittedly still figuring things out to be quite honest- and that’s okay.