A1 Journal article (refereed)
Polar Bear in 'Fortitude' : Affective Aesthetics and Politics of Climate Change (2021)

Mäntymäki, H. (2021). Polar Bear in 'Fortitude' : Affective Aesthetics and Politics of Climate Change. Ecozon@, 12(2), 150-165. https://doi.org/10.37536/ecozona.2021.12.2.4391

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsMäntymäki, Helen

Journal or seriesEcozon@



Publication year2021

Publication date28/10/2021


Issue number2

Pages range150-165

PublisherEuropean Association for the Study of Literature, Culture and the Environment

Publication countrySpain

Publication languageEnglish


Publication open accessOpenly available

Publication channel open accessOpen Access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX)https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/79780


In the first season of the television Eco Noir crime series Fortitude (2015) the polar bear appears as a sticky object that embodies an ambiguous affective charge as an icon of global warming. This article discusses the ways in which the polar bear evokes viewer affect in the series through two discourses. The first one relates to violence, essentially present in crime narratives, and how the human and nonhuman animal are positioned in relation to global warming, violence and each other. It raises questions of place and belonging in a local and global context and examines how the polar bear is constructed in terms of stranger danger and victimization in relation to human animals and the threat of global warming. The second one targets the ways in which the polar bear is rendered sticky as the object of the human gaze and how this process of human animals looking at photographs of bears both constructs and deconstructs the subject-object relation, hierarchy and agency. Methodologically, the article draws on “close looking” and the main theoretical starting points are ecocriticism and affect theory. The article argues that the representation of the polar bear contributes in essential ways to the socially and environmentally critical emphasis essential in contemporary crime narratives including Fortitude: the distracting and emotionally charged representation of the polar bear evokes ambiguous affective responses in viewers. Thus, as the article further argues, a representation of this kind is capable of—and liable to— inducing a heightened awareness of the present environmental crisis than a more straightforward, less affectively charged representation.

Keywordsclimate changesclimatewarmingenvironmental effectsinfluencingemotionsaffectivityecocriticismtelevision seriescrime seriescrime fictionviolence (activity)dystopiaspolar bearclimate policyhuman-animal relationshiprelation to nature

Free keywordspolar bear; global warming; affect; crime fiction; Fortitude

Contributing organizations

Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2021

JUFO rating1

Last updated on 2024-22-04 at 22:30