White Lies About the Inuit / Edition 1

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Overview

The Inuit are a familiar part of Canadian identity but also exotic residing in the remote Arctic. The mix of the familiar and the exotic has resulted in the creation and perpetuation of a number of "White Lies." These are stories that have been developed over long periods of time, reproduced in classrooms, anthropology and sociology textbooks, and other media, but have been rarely challenged, contributing to misunderstandings that have ultimately, in subtle ways, diminished the stature of Inuit traditional culture.

In this lively book, designed specifically for introductory students, Steckley unpacks three "White Lies"—the myth that there are fifty-two words for snow, that there are blond, blue-eyed Inuit descended from the Vikings, and that the Inuit send off their elders to die on ice floes. Debunking these popular myths allows him to illustrate how knowledge is shaped by Western social science, particularly the anthropology of the "Other," and that it can be flawed. In the process, students learn not only about Inuit culture, but about the difference between popular and scholarly research.

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What People Are Saying

Mark Nuttall
Bold, perceptive, provocative, and incisive, White Lies about the Inuit cautions us to question what we see, hear, read, talk about, and presume to be true. Steckley's book is a long overdue exploration and critique of the cultural assumptions, arrogance, ignorance, and mythologizing that has led to misreadings and misunderstandings of Inuit societies and cultures.
Nelson Graburn
White Lies About the Inuitis a remarkable textbook that teaches the critical reading of ethnography. Anthropologists, both in the past and the present, have often chosen the 'good story' over the complexities of real life. This is one book where I'm glad to see my work not cited!
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781551118758
  • Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Higher Education Division
  • Publication date: 12/18/2007
  • Series: Teaching Culture: UTP Ethnographies for the Classroom Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 168
  • Sales rank: 1,311,554
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

John Steckley teaches Anthropology at Humber College in Toronto. He is the author of Aboriginal Voices and the Politics of Representation in Canadian Sociology Textbooks (Canadian Scholars' Press) and Words of the Huron (Wilfrid Laurier University Press).

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Imagining the Inuit

Arctic Urban Legends

Learning about the Eskimo

See You in the Movies

"In This Movie, You Will Be an Eskimo"

White Lies Not Included

The Word
Eskimo and Its Meanings

Does Eating Raw Mean Eating
People Raw?

Who Are You Calling Inuit, White Man?

Part of a Larger Picture

Chapter 2: Four Major White Figures

Franz Boas: A Paternalistic Father of Anthropology

Stefansson and Jenness: Two Polar Opposites

Farley Mowat: Subjective Non-fiction, Essential Truths, or Fxxx the Facts?

Conclusion

Chapter 3: Fifty-two Words for Snow

A Source of Humour: Jokes about Inuit Snow Terms

It All Began with Boas

Enter Diamond Jenness

Benjamin Whorf

Downplaying the Number of Inuit Snow Terms: An Ignored Source

The Birth of 20 Snow Terms: A Sociological Tradition Since 1968

Numbers Ending with Two: 52, 42, 32, 22

Farley Mowat Takes the Number to an Artistic High: 100

How
Do Inuktitut and English Differ in Terms for Snow?

English Is Good in the Snow, Too

So How Many "Words" Are There for Snow?

Seven Primary Terms for Snow

Negative Implications of the Inuit Snow Term Cliche

Summary

Chapter 4: The Myth of the Blond Eskimo

The Blond Eskimo: A Popular Figure

The Copper Inuit

First Contact

Lost Races

Stefansson Discovers the Blond Eskimo and Finds Funding

The Greenland Norse and Their Fate

The Blond Eskimo Captures the Literary Imagination

Jenness Takes Up the Challenge

The Return of the Blond Eskimo

Negative Implications of the Blond Eskimo

Chapter 5: Elders on Ice

A Popular Story: Going with the Floes

Why Shouldn't You Believe the Story?

When is Abandonment Really Abandonment?

The Deep Roots of This Myth: Beginnings as Euthanasia

Growing the Myth

Altruistic Suicide, Mores, and Cultural Relativism

Anthropologists Introduce Environmental Causality

Balikci Uses Psychology to Blame the Victim

Guemple Uses Anthropology to Blame the Victim

Colonial Contact: A Neglected Causality

Farley Mowat Popularizes Inuit Elder Abandonment and Suicide

Inuit Suicide Today

Chapter 6: The Lies Do Not Stand Alone

Inuit Snow Terms, Hanunoo Rice Terms, and Nuer Cow Colours

The Blond Eskimo: Atlanteans, Welsh Princes, and the Irish Sati

The Inuit as a Canadian Construct

Best in the Bush

Conclusion

Works Cited

Index

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