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Settlements, kinship and hunting grounds in traditional Greenland is a comparative study of the geographical mobility of hunters in the Upernavik and Ammassalik districts.
The periods dealt with are c. 1860 to 1970 for the Upernavik district and 1894 to 1970 for the Ammassalik district.
On the basis of the experiences of local hunters themselves, the study shows how kinship and social organization are important factors for the description of settlement patterns. When one compares the two districts, one finds that the strategies chosen and the results of expansion differ.
Social organization, economic solidarity and traditional rights of use are evaluated against the background of the incest prohibition and exchanges of knowledge.
The size of the hunting area of one local community is estimated, allowing for increases in population and the effect of bad hunting years, two factors crucial to the expansion of the hunting areas. The role of pioneers in the expansion process is described.
In the final chapters, the economy of hunting communities as part of modern Greenlandic society is studied. The economic status of the hunting communities as supplemented by wage income seems to be equivalent to that of the true hunting society, but is controversial as compared with similar present-day communities. The economic situation in the 1990s is discussed for both areas.
Robert Petersen (b. 1928) was one of the fathers of the modern Greenlandic orthography and in the early 1980s founded Ilisimatusarfik, the University of Greenland. He was appointed Professor of Eskimology at the University of Copenhagen in 1975 and was Principal of Ilisimatusarfik from 1987 until retirement
in 1995. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by Université Laval, Quebec, in 1992.
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