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The governance of the Arctic as a frontier for international environmental and climate cooperation, resource politics and security governance holds the promise to provide important insights into some of the 21st century’s most enduring and pressing global challenges. This article reviews the state of the art of Arctic governance research (AGR) to assess the potential and limitations of a regional studies community for making sense of Northern politics and contributing to the broader discipline of international relations (IR) research. A bibliometric analysis of 398 articles published in 10 outlets between 2008 and 2019 reveals that AGR faces at least four limitations that undermine understanding and explaining the processes and outcomes of regional politics and inhibit generalisable observations applicable to questions of global governance: academic immaturity, methodological monoculturalism, state-centrism and analytical parochialism. The lack particularly of theoretically driven and comparative research is indicative of a deeper crisis in AGR which, if unaddressed, could further solidify the community’s unjustified reputation as quixotic in orientation and negligible in its contributions to IR research.