Inuit Hunters and a Geography Based on Memory

Friday October 17, 2008 – 7:30 p.m. at the Almonte United Church Social Hall

Speaker: Claudio Aporta

Topic: Inuit Hunters and a Geography Based on Memory

Synopsis:

The presentation will discuss the main characteristics of the Inuit perception and representation of their territory. It will focus on how locations and directions are described through oral means, without the use of maps. A significant aspect of this approach to geography is the extensive use of trails. Although Inuit trails disappear every year (as the snow melts), their spatial locations are remembered, and the itineraries are recreated year after year on the same places.

This presentation will show ethnographic and historic evidence for the existence, in time and space, of a network of well-established trails connecting most Inuit settlements and significant places across the Canadian Arctic. It will also relate the experience of traveling a traditional trail connecting the communities of Iglulik and Naujaat (Repulse Bay). One of the goals of the presentation is to show that some types of oral history and knowledge can be accurately transmitted through generations.

Speaker’s Profile:

Claudio Aporta was born in the province of Mendoza, Argentina. He did his BA in Communication at Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Argentina and moved to Canada in 1997 to pursue graduate studies (a Ph.D.) at the University of Alberta. He also spent a year as Postdoctoral Fellow at Université Laval.

Since 1998 he has been involved in ethnographic research in several Inuit communities of Nunavut, particularly in Igloolik. His major interests are connected to how Inuit relate to their physical environments and to the transmission of Inuit oral knowledge in contemporary contexts. He also likes to explore new ways of representing oral knowledge, using such tools as multimedia technologies, GIS, GPS and Google Earth. This research has been funded by Wenner-Gren, SSHRC, NSERC, National Geography, and the Nunavut Government. He is presently the Principal Investigator of ISIUOP (Inuit Sea Use and Occupancy Project), working with several researchers and northern participants in the documentation and mapping of Inuit use and knowledge of the sea ice in Nunavut and Nunavik (Northern Quebec) He is a member of the Faculty in the Department of Anthropology at Carleton University.