Polar Record

Research Article

Creative Alaska: creative capital and economic development opportunities in Alaska

Andrey N. Petrova1 and Philip A. Cavina1

a1 Arctic Social and Environmental Systems Laboratory, Department of Geography, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA 50614, USA (andrey.petrov@uni.edu)


The flaws of the 20th century–type development ‘mega–projects’ in the circumpolar North prompt Arctic regions actively to search for alternative strategies of regional development that break away from resource–dependency and reconcile local (traditional) societies with the realities of post–Fordism and globalisation. This paper presents a study that focuses on the notion of creative capital (CC) and assesses its ability to foster economic development in Alaska. The findings suggest that some characteristics of the CC observed in Alaskan communities are similar to those found in southern regions, whereas others are distinct (but similar to those in the Canadian North). In Alaska, the synergy between cultural economy, entrepreneurship and leadership appear to be more important in characterising creative capacities than formal education. The geographical distribution of the CC is uneven and heavily clustered in economically, geographically and politically privileged northern urban centres. However, some remote regions also demonstrate considerable levels of creative potential, in particular associated with the aboriginal cultural capital (artists, crafters, etc.). A number of Alaskan regions, creative ‘hot spots’, could become places that can benefit from alternative strategies of regional development based on CC, knowledge–based and cultural economies.

(Received September 2011)

(Online publication June 29 2012)