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Title: Things of use, things of life : coordinating lives through material practices of northwest Alaska
Author: Lincoln, Amber
ISNI:       0000 0004 2707 3437
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis presents a study of people’s relationships with their material world.  It is based on fifteen months of ethnographic fieldwork with Inupiaq and Yup’ik residents of northwest Alaska and on three months of ethnographic collections-based research in British museums.  The central focus of this thesis is how materials and objects are used and what they mean to the people who use them.  It explores how people come together in material practices to create social worlds and individual realities.  While Bering Strait Eskimo tools and garments have long been acknowledged for their ability to ensure survival in what many southerners believe to be unforgiving landscapes, the practices which produce, use, and consume these objects have received less attention.  Each chapter casts light on different sets of maternal practices, including: procuring materials, processing them, crafting products, conserving and keeping objects, and exhibiting objects in public places.  Indigenous residents participating in these practices readily transform materials and objects, applying them to various circumstances to meet shifting needs.  Tracking people’s involvement in such practices over time and across spaces reveals that material practices simultaneously forge relationships, shape individuals and communities, and resolve problems.  This thesis argues that because multiple developments transpire at once in material practices, Inupiat and Yupiit of northwest Alaska use them to coordinate diverse aspects of their lives and to harmonise their lives with others.  Grounded in this understanding of how things are used, this thesis develops an account of how things become socially meaningful; things acquire meanings for practitioners based on their roles in coordinating lives.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Yupik Eskimos ; Inupiat ; Indigenous peoples