1st Edition

Early Ethnography in the American Arctic Tristes Arctiques

By Kirsten Hastrup Copyright 2024
    274 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book offers a portrait of early ethnographic work in the American Arctic, with a focus on understanding the mutual constitution of the Inuit and their early ethnographers. It draws mainly on a rich repository of written testimonies from the early twentieth century, the ‘great ethnographic period’ when new scholarly interest in the region took off. Supplementing the movements and observations of whalers, traders, and missionaries, the early chroniclers offered new knowledge of Inuit life. Although their descriptions of the Inuit bear the marks of their time, the texts have left a deep mark on later developments and contributed to a long-lasting view of human life in the Arctic. The chapters show the infiltration of lives and landscapes, of thoughts and materials, of Inuit and ethnographers. The book will be relevant to anthropologists as well as historians, geographers, and others with an interest the Arctic region and Indigenous studies.

    Prologue: The Great Ethnographic Period in the American Arctic

    1 The New World: Anthropologists in the Wilderness

    2 Late Arrivals: Strangers in the North

    3 Moving Frontiers: Life in the Indeterminate Zone

    4 Animal Companions: The Precariousness of the Hunt

    5 Vital Materials: The Agency of Things

    6 Human Terrains: A Mutable Landscape

    7 Close Quarters: Intimacy and Travelling Theory

    8 Emerging Subjects: Bodies in the Cold

    9 Elusive Arctic: Ancient Steps and Future Traces


    Kirsten Hastrup is Professor Emeritus at the Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.