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Title: Never alone : narratives of spirits in an Alaskan Yup'ik community
Author: Simon-Sakurai, Katrin
ISNI:       0000 0004 2740 1904
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis examines the meaning and use of narratives of spirits in the settlement of Scammon Bay, a Central Yup’ik community of about 500 people on the southwestern shore of the Bering Sea in Alaska. I contend that Scammon Bay people’s narratives of spirits make powerful statements about the well-being of, and disorder in, the world. These stories illustrate how spirits are responsive beings who are part of Scammon Bay’s sentient environment. I argue that they are aware of, and reactive to, human actions and people’s moral failings. Most residents consider telling and listening to stories about their nonhuman neighbours an empowering act through which they shape the behaviour of themselves and those around them, while indirectly commenting on their own experiences within the settlement’s history of colonial domination. I hypothesise that narratives of spirits provide healing measures for community members by offering a means to articulate their modern-day social ills in a non-disruptive fashion, thus strengthening Yupiit’s resilience in circumstances of rapid social change. By analysing the connection between storytelling and culture change, this thesis explores the ways that the people of Scammon Bay use narratives of spirits to find meaning, understanding, and hope in their lives.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Aberdeen ; College of Arts and Social Sciences ; Angus Pelham Burn Awards ; University of Aberdeen ; National Science Foundation ; Whatcom Museum of History and Art
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Yupik Eskimos ; Demonology