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Inuit are often stigmatized as happy hunter-gatherers or sad victims of (post)modernity. A simplification that is inextricably linked to a supposed, but nevertheless misunderstood, conflict between indigenousness on the one hand and wage economy and modern technology on the other: such as it was done in the anti-sealing campaigns of the 1980s. Even though Inuit identities and cultures are often thought of in a museological context by outsiders, and thus find little room for contemporary negotiation, their contents and dynamics are subject to constant change, and have always been so.
In this cyber-ethnography, Neil Blair Christensen explores the processes by which a wide selection of personal, local, cultural and national identities are expressed and understood on the Internet. The different Inuit peoples of the circumpolar Arctic have always taken active part in the world, but their contemporary use of Internet(s) has affected even more their relative isolation - one that comes from living in a peripheral region of the world. Yet, Inuit and others are constructing web pages with social and physical references that sustain an imagined Arctic remoteness; a logic that seems to be a key aspect of Inuit identities and cultures.
The book brings together in analysis and discussion the realities of contemporary Inuit, the myth of cyberspace and a selection of dynamic strategies for identification. It concludes that Inuit dynamically remain Inuit, in all their diversity, regardless of an imagined compression of time and space; their use of changing technologies, or participation in enlarged social networks.
Neil Blair Christensen, MA in Eskimology, is the publishing manager for Munksgaard International Publishers.
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