Negotiating Personal Autonomy: Communication and Personhood in East Greenland, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Negotiating Personal Autonomy

Communication and Personhood in East Greenland, 1st Edition

By Sophie Elixhauser


250 pages | 34 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Hardback: 9781138068551
pub: 2018-03-14
SAVE ~$29.00
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315157832
pub: 2018-03-09
from $27.48

FREE Standard Shipping!


Negotiating Personal Autonomy offers a detailed ethnographic examination of personal autonomy and social life in East Greenland.

Examining verbal and non-verbal communication in interpersonal encounters, Elixhauser argues that social life in the region is characterized by relationships based upon a particular care to respect other people’s personal autonomy. Exploring this high valuation of personal autonomy, she asserts that a person in East Greenland is a highly permeable entity that is neither bounded by the body nor even necessarily human. In so doing, she also puts forward a new approach to the anthropological study of communication.

An important addition to the corpus of ethnographic literature about the people of East Greenland, Elixhauser‘s work will be of interest to scholars of the Arctic and the North, Greenland, social and cultural anthropology, and human geography. Her conclusion that, in East Greenland, the ‘inner’ self cannot be separated from the ‘public’ persona will also be of interest to scholars working on the self across the humanities and social sciences.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Setting the Scene: Communication, Autonomy and Personhood

3. East Greenland: Historical and Ethnographic Background

4. Moving: Communication and Everyday Travel

5. Family Life: The Power of Words, Personal Space and the Materiality of a House

6. Shared Hospitality: Flows of Guests, Goods and Gifts

7. Social Sanctions: The Balancing of Personal Autonomy and Community Expectations

8. The Animate Environment: Perceptions of Nun-human Beings and the Notion of the 'Open' Person

9. Conclusion

About the Author

Sophie Elixhauser is an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen, UK. Her research interests include human–environmental relations and interpersonal communication in East Greenland, and the human dimensions of climate and environmental changes in the European Alps. She currently works in the field of migration in Munich, Germany.

About the Series

Arctic Worlds

Communities, Political Ecology and Ways of Knowing

This series aims to integrate research from across the circumpolar Arctic from across the humanities, social sciences, and history of science. This region – once exotised as a remote and unknown "blank spot"– is now acknowledged to be the homeland of a variety of indigenous nations, many of whom have won or are seeking home rule. 

The Arctic was the central axis of frozen confrontation during the Cold War. At the start of the 21st century it is a resource hinterland offering supplies of petroleum and minerals for aggressively new markets with great cost and risk to the environment. 

The indigenous nations of the region are unique for their "ways of knowing" which approach animals and landscape as alive, sentient entities. Many share cultural commonalities across the Arctic Ocean, sketching out a human community that unites disparate continents.

This series will take history seriously by bringing together archaeological work on ancient Arctic societies with ethnohistorical studies of the alternate idioms by which time and meaning are understood by circumpolar peoples, as well as science and technology studies of how the region is perceived by various scientific communities.

Submitting a proposal

The series welcomes proposals for both (co)authored and (co)edited books on these topics. Book proposals should be sent to the Routledge editor: [email protected]

For guidance on how to structure your proposal, please visit:

Editorial Advisory Board:

Dmitry Arzyutov, Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology, Russia
Hiroki Takakura, Tohoku University, Japan
Per Axelsson, Umeå University, Sweden


Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General