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ERIC Number: EJ912993
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 14
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0161-6463
Is an Inuit Literary History Possible?
Martin, Keavy
American Indian Culture and Research Journal, v34 n2 p67-80 2010
In 1921, the Greenlandic anthropologist Knud Rasmussen set out to travel twenty thousand miles by dog team across Inuit Nunaat--the Inuit homeland. During this three-year journey--the famous Fifth Thule Expedition--Rasmussen was struck by the similarities in the language and culture of Inuit communities across the entire Arctic. Considering the geographical and historical distance between groups of Inuit, Rasmussen observed that "it would be natural for the language and traditions of the various tribes to have lost all homogeneity." The Inuit people may have been composed of widespread regional groups, but their language and literary traditions told a different story. They spoke of a connection that surpassed geographical and historical distance. As one might expect, the literature of this territory is likewise varied and complex. The texts that make up the Inuit literary corpus span thousands of years and a number of genres: they include the classic stories and songs of the oral tradition, more recent memoirs and life writing, elders' oral histories, and contemporary fiction, poetry, and film. Local contexts are highly important to these works, as the literature of each region takes on the particular flavors of its geography and political history. However, Inuit continue to suffer from underrepresentation in southern university classrooms. Even in Native literature classes, Inuit writers and storytellers have a marginal presence, if they are present at all. This article asks whether the strategic concept of an Inuit circumpolar literature is justifiable, even as a temporary measure. Is an Inuit literary history possible? The author concludes that in view of the Arctic's current role as an international political chesspiece, an Inuit literary history is possible; and not only that--it is necessary. (Contains 66 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Greenland