Reading Life with Gwich'in: An Educational Approach, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Reading Life with Gwich'in

An Educational Approach, 1st Edition

By Jan Peter Laurens Loovers


280 pages | 25 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138616691
pub: 2019-09-30
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This book is based upon more than two years of ethnographic fieldwork and personal experiences with the Teetł’it Gwich’in community in northern Canada. The author provides insight into Gwich’in understandings of life as well as into historical and political processes that have taken place in the North. He outlines the development of an educational approach towards conducting ethnography and writing anthropological literature, starting with the premise ‘you have to live it’. The book focuses on ways of knowing and collaboration through learning and being taught by interlocutors. Building on the work of Tim Ingold, Loovers investigates the notion of reading life - land, water and weather as well as texts – and analyses the reading of texts as acts of conversations or correspondences.

Jan Peter Laurens Loovers (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is Project Curator for the Arctic Exhibition at The British Museum (UK) and Honorary Research Fellow at University of Aberdeen (Scotland, UK). He has worked with Indigenous people across the globe, but most extensively with Gwich’in in northern Canada. His topics of interest are ecology, education, human-animal relations, Indigenous rights, literacy, philosophy, and resource extraction amongst others. He is co-editor of Dogs in the North (Routledge, 2018).

Table of Contents

PART I: INTRODUCTION TO AN EDUCATIONAL APPROACH. 1 Ecology, Education, Collaboration. 2 Trails to knowing. PART II: A SENTIENT HISTORY. 3 A growing worldAn introduction to travelling. 4 McDonald’s legacy, Gwich’in literacy. 5 Governing a land of resources. PART III: LOSING ELDERS, KEEPING LIFE GOING. 6 Education and language. 7 The Healing Land. PART IV: LIFE ON THE LAND. 8 Knowing wood. 9 Reading places and trails.

About the Author

Jan Peter Laurens Loovers (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is Project Curator for the Arctic Exhibition at The British Museum (UK) and Honorary Research Fellow at University of Aberdeen (Scotland, UK).

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:

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