Aaron John Spitzer's picture

Aaron John Spitzer

Associate Professor, Associate Professor of Arctic Governance
  • E-mailAaron.Spitzer@uib.no
  • Phone+47 55 58 27 99
  • Visitor Address
    Christies gate 15
    5007 Bergen
  • Postal Address
    Postboks 7802
    5020 Bergen

Aaron John Spitzer is an associate professor of Arctic governance at the Department of Comparative Politics and is the co-leader of the international research project Indigenous Peoples and Governance in the Arctic. His research focuses on Indigenous governance, Arctic governance, liberal-democratic peripheries, and post-Westphalianism. He has spent extensive time conducting research in Alaska; Canada's Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut; and Australia's Northern Territory. His latest work investigates clashes concerning the accommodation of Sami interests; the contested constitutional structure of settler-colonial federal “territories” and other peripheral regions; and the normative navigation of contests juxtaposing the liberal-democratic rights of individuals versus the self-determination rights of peoples.   

Course development and teaching 

Aaron has been responsible for developing and teaching courses at the undergraduate and graduate level on Arctic governance, Indigenous governance, and state-and-nation building:

SAMPOL105: State- and Nation-Building (co-instructor, 2022-2023) is an undergraduate course at the Department of Comparative Politics, University of Bergen, introducing first-year students to the history of, and theories concerning, the rise of the Westphalian state system, and exploring challenges that system is now experiencing. 

SAMPOL203: Comparative Arctic Indigenous Governance (curriculum developer and instructor, 2018-2023) is undergraduate course at the Department of Comparative Politics, University of Bergen, exploring the rapidly evolving field of Indigenous governance in the Nordic states and Canada.

SAMPOL 371: Arctic Politics (curriculum developer and instructor, 2022-2023) is an M.A.-level course at the Department of Comparative Politics, University of Bergen, studying contemporary challenges in the North including climate change, resource extraction, militarization, and Indigenous (de)colonization.

SAMPOL323: Arctic Governance and the Role of Indigenous People ((co-instructor, 2018, 2020-2021) is an M.A.-level course at the Department of Comparative Politics, University of Bergen, exploring how the Arctic Indigenous peoples take part in and influence processes of political change.

STV-2048Comparative Arctic Indigenous Governance (curriculum developer and co-instructor, 2018-2019) is an undergraduate course at the University of Tromsø – the Arctic University of Norway, exploring the rapidly evolving field of indigenous governance in the Nordic states and Canada.




  • Show author(s) (2023). Review of Nested Federalism and Inuit Governance in the Canadian Arctic (by Gary N. Wilson, Christopher Alcantara, and Thierry Rodon). Northern Review.
  • Show author(s) (2023). A Sami land-claims settlement? Assessing Norway's Finnmark Act in a comparative perspective. Scandinavian Political Studies. 288-308.
  • Show author(s) (2022). The settler-rights backlash: understanding liberal challenges to Indigenous self-determination. Territory, Politics, Governance.
  • Show author(s) (2021). Examining FeFo from a Canadian "claimed-based" co-mangagement perspective.
  • Show author(s) (2021). Approaching the boundary problem: Self-determination, inclusion, and the unpuzzling of transboundary conflicts. Journal of International Political Theory.
  • Show author(s) (2020). The metapolitics of settler-colonialism.
  • Show author(s) (2020). Is Nonterritorial Autonomy Wrong for Indigenous Rights? Examining the ‘Territorialisation’ of Sami Power in Norway. International Journal on Minority and Group Rights. 544-567.
  • Show author(s) (2019). `A wolf in sheep’s clothing’: settler voting rights and the elimination of the Indigenous demos in US Pacific territories. Postcolonial Studies. 1-19.
  • Show author(s) (2019). Truth commissions on violations against indigenous peoples: the sami truth commission in comparative perspective.
  • Show author(s) (2019). The Sami Truth Commission in a comparative perspective.
  • Show author(s) (2019). Erratum: Claims-based co-management in Norway's arctic? Examining sami land governance as a case of treaty federalism (Canadian Journal of Political Science (2019) (1-9) DOI: 10.1017/S0008423919000301). Canadian journal of political science. 937.
  • Show author(s) (2019). Constituting settler colonialism: the ‘boundary problem’, liberal equality, and settler state-making in Australia’s Northern Territory. Postcolonial Studies.
  • Show author(s) (2019). Colonizing the demos? Settler rights, Indigenous sovereignty, and the contested ‘structure of governance’ in Canada’s North. Settler Colonial Studies. 1-17.
  • Show author(s) (2019). Claims-Based Co-management in Norway's Arctic? Examining Sami Land Governance as a Case of Treaty Federalism. Canadian journal of political science. 1-19.
  • Show author(s) (2018). Reconciling shared rule: Liberal theory, electoral- districting law and “National Group” representation in Canada. Canadian journal of political science. 447-466.

More information in national current research information system (CRIStin)

Contested Frontiers: Understanding the Constitutional Politics of Settler-State Peripheries (CONFRONT)

European Research Council Starting Grant (101115513), 2024-2029

Between Indigenous self-determination and settler colonization lie contested frontiers, subject to “metapolitics.” In the past, settlers, using force, domesticated frontiers. Recent decades have seen an Indigenous resurgence, rekindling metapolitcs, most consequentially on settler-state peripheries. These contests are increasingly waged as clashes of “constitutive principles”: Is the demos rightly universal or divisible? Should individual or collective rights prevail? Should democracy or self-determination decide? Resolving such contests is difficult. Yet the metapolitics of modern frontiers have escaped political-science attention. They lack conceptualization, analysis, and theorization.  

CONFRONT aims to develop a theory of frontier metapolitics, by for the first time studying contests over constitutive principles in, and how such contests shape and are shaped by, settler-state peripheries. This project will generate and test data from settler federal territories (e.g., Australia’s Northern Territory, Canada’s Nunavut, American Samoa) and related peripheries to learn how constitutive metapolitics are conducted and refereed, how they (re)constitute peripheries, and how they should be resolved. To do this, CONFRONT will pursue four research objectives: 1) conceptualizing metapolitics to render it cognizable, 2) compiling the first dataset of frontier constitutive metapolitical contests, 3) analysing such contests and their interaction with the constitution of peripheries, and 4) normatively theorizing how such contests should be approached and resolved.

CONFRONT will innovatively combine comparative politics, comparative constitutional law, and normative political theory to identify and open a salient new research field. Led by a pioneer of settler-metapolitical studies with a unique pre-academic background in peripheral regions, this project will make modern frontier metapolitical contests visible, comprehensible, and more soluble. If successful, CONFRONT will place peripheries central to studies of metapolitical contestation, inspiring and preparing scientists, decisionmakers, civil-society actors, and perhaps even colonized peoples to grapple with the rising metapolitical instability of peripheries and of the “late Westphalian” world at large.

29 September 2023, BERGEN: Spitzer has been awarded the prestigeous ERC Starting Grant. Competing with more than 2500 applicants, from 24 countries in Europe, Spitzer is one of the 400 researchers that has been awarded the ERC Starting Grant 2023 from the European Research Council, ERC. This means that his project, «Contested Frontiers», will receive 1.544 million Euro’s over five years, or approximately 17.76 million NOK. 

4 May 2023, BERGEN: The Arctic is a 'living laboratory'. "It is sometimes said that we are entering a period of 'late Westphalianism' – a period where globalism, and the rights revolution, and climate emergencies, are breaking down that neat grid-like structure of states, blurring the line between inside and out, us and them."

7 October 2022, BERGEN: Welcome to Aaron as department’s associate professor of Arctic geopolitics. Aaron John Spitzer, until recently a førstelektor (associate teaching professor) at UiB’s Department of Comparative Politics, has been promoted to the rank of associate professor. His position is connected to the Nansen-Initiative with a focus on governance and geopolitics of the Arctic.

16 May 2022, NUUK: Will Greenland gain sovereignty? Sampol scholars explore Denmark’s Inuit territory as it grapples with the prospect of statehood.

14 June 2021, BERGEN: Arctic research comes in from the cold: The High North, long considered peripheral to the study of politics, is now a geopolitical hot spot, due to climate change, Arctic sovereignty, demand for remote resources, new transportation routes, militarization, and Indigenous “decolonization.” Academia is taking note and turning north – and the Department of Comparative Politics (SAMPOL) is in the lead.

19 September 2016, BERGEN: Indigenous People and Governance in the Arctic: Elin Monstad and Aaron Spitzer are newly appointed PhD candidates at the Department of Comparative Politics.