Peter J. Whitridge


Associate Professor


Ph.D. Arizona State University, 1999
M.A. McGill University, 1992
B.A.  University of Toronto, 1989


Phone: (709) 864-2394
Office: QC 4010

Research Interests

I am interested in the archaeology of the body, including the spatial dimension of embodied experience (households, landscape), its hybrid entanglements with things and non-human animals, and changes in embodied experience over the lifecourse. All of these things are well-expressed in the archaeological record of the Inuit of the North American Arctic, including Labrador and Nunavut, my primary research areas.

Current Research Projects

My recent research has focused on the colonization of northern Labrador by the ancestors of the current Inuit residents of Nunatsiavut (as the Labrador Inuit refer to the larger region). Although the precise timing of the Inuit arrival is not well-resolved, current evidence suggests that Inuit had colonized the northern half of the coast by the later fifteenth century. Since Europeans were becoming active in this region by the mid sixteenth century - exploring, raiding and whaling - the precontact Inuit window is relatively brief, although a protohistoric period of attenuated contacts is interestingly prolonged: Europeans did not become resident on the northern coast until Moravian missionaries established mission stations in the late eighteenth century. Inuit understandings of the landscape, and relations with game, domesticates, and non-Inuit groups, are significant features of the colonization process, and underwent substantial transformations between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Since 2003 I have conducted field work at precontact and early historic Inuit sites in Nachvak and Saglek Fiords, the archipelago south of Nain, and, with Jim Woollett of Université Laval, at sites in Komaktorvik and Napaktok Fiords and the Okak area. In 2016 a group from Memorial will conduct mapping, survey and excavation at a precontact/early historic site in Hebron Fiord. PhD, MA and honours BA students are active participants in this research, and have conducted thesis-related research on Inuit harvesting and travel systems, social and symbolic aspects of winter house architecture, and pre-Inuit settlement, among other things.

Recent student supervision
Ph.D. Dissertation

Arbour, Chelsee (in progress). Research topic: Maritime Archaic Occupation at Kamestastin in the Quebéc/Labrador interior.  (SSHRC Fellowship).
Elliot, Deidre (in progress). Research topic: Labrador Inuit Whaling. (Co-supervised with Dr. Lisa Rankin)

M.A. Theses

Levasseur, Francois P. (in progress). Research topic: tbd.
Walley, Meghan
(in progess): Research topic: Queering the Angakok: An Archaeological Investigation of Non-Binary Gender Among Pre-Contact Inuit.
Elliott, Deidre (in progress). Research topic: Investigating the Effects of European contact on Inuit-Animal Interactons in Northern Labrador.
Craig, David (in progess). Research topic: Inuit Trails: GIS Modelling and Experiential Ground Survey of Past Travel Routes in Saglek Bay, Labrador. (SSHRC Fellowship).

B.A. Honours Essay

Fells, Anita (2014). Marking the Landscape: A Case Study of the Inuksuit of North Arm, Saglek Fiord. (SAA Native American Undergraduate Archaeology Scholarship).

Recent Publications

Whitridge, Peter 2016. Inuksuk, sled shoe, place name: Archaeological and toponymic traces of past Inuit ethnogeographies. In Marking the Land: Hunter-Gatherer Creation of Meaning in their Environment, edited by William Lovis and Robert Whallon. Routledge, New York. in press

Whitridge, Peter 2016. Classic Thule (Precontact Inuit). In Oxford Handbook of Arctic Archaeology, edited by Max Friesen and Owen Mason. Oxford University Press, Oxford. in press

Whitridge, Peter 2016. Landscapes, houses, bodies, things: “Place” and the archaeology of Inuit imaginaries. In Landscape Archaeology, edited by Mark Gillings and Joshua Pollard. Routledge, London. [reprinted from Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 11(2):213-250.]

Whitridge, Peter 2015. The sound of contact: Early historic Inuit music-making in northern Labrador. North Atlantic Archaeology 4:17-42.

Whitridge, Peter 2013. The imbrication of human and animal paths: an arctic case study. In Relational Archaeologies: Humans, Animals, Things, edited by Christopher Watts, pp. 228-244. Routledge, New York.

Whitridge, Peter 2012. Invented places: environmental imaginaries and the Inuit colonization of Labrador. In Settlement, Subsistence, and Change Among the Labrador Inuit: The Nunatsiavummiut Experience, edited by David Natcher, Lawrence Felt and Andrea Procter, pp. 43-60. University of Manitoba Press, Winnipeg.

Alter, S. Elizabeth, Howard C. Rosenbaum, Lianne D. Postma, Peter Whitridge, Cork Gaines, Diana Weber, Mary G. Egan, Melissa Lindsay, George Amato, Larry Dueck, Robert L. Brownell Jr., Mads-Peter Heide-Jrrgensen, Kristin L. Laidre, Gisella Caccone and Brittany L. Hancock.
2012. Gene flow on ice: the role of sea ice and whaling in shaping Holarctic genetic diversity and population differentiation in bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus). Ecology and Evolution 2(11): 2895–2911.

Savelle, James , Arthur Dyke, Peter Whitridge and Melanie Poupart, 2012. Paleoeskimo demography on western Victoria Island, Arctic Canada: implications for social organization and longhouse development. Arctic 65(2):167-181.

Whitridge, Peter 2008. Reimagining the iglu: modernity and the challenge of the eighteenth century Labrador Inuit winter house. Archaeologies 4(2):288-309.

Recent Presentations

2015 Precontact Inuit whaling and identity in the Eastern Arctic. Eleventh Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies (CHAGS XI), Vienna.

2015 Fractal landscapes: nested spatial scales in northern archaeology. Annual Meeting of the Canadian Archaeological Association (CAA; Festscrift for M.A.P. Renouf), St. John’s.

2014 Place and placelessness: inuksuit, pinnacles and other non-places in the Canadian Arctic. Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA), Washington.

2014 Writing History on the Land: Inuksuit As Long-Term Repositories of Cultural Information. Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA), Austin.

2013 Animals and the sensory envelope of Inuit lives. Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA), Honolulu.

2012 The sound of contact: historic Inuit music-making in northern Labrador. Annual Meeting of the Council for Northeast Historical Archaeology, St. John’s.

2012 Ini: Inuit placenames and the persistence of memory. SAA, Memphis.

2011 Soapstone vessel technology and the remaking of the Inuit lifeworld. “The Dialectics of Ancient Innovations” Workshop, TOPOI, Berlin.

2011 On the track of the track: human and (other) animal paths in the Arctic. SAA, Sacramento.

2010 Nanuk! the archaeology of real and imaginary polar bears (poster). Annual Meeting of the International Council of Archaeozoology (ICAZ), Paris.

2010 Archaeology of the Inuit life course. Annual Meeting of the Canadian Archaeological Association (CAA), Calgary.

2009 Wrapping the body: Inuit dolls as fields of real and metaphorical play. Annual Meeting of the Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG), Durham.

2009 Precontact Inuit colonization of the Okak area, northern Labrador (poster). SAA, Atlanta.

2008 Brave new worlds: the Inuit encounter with forested nature in Labrador. TAG, New York.

2008 Changing constructions of lived space during the Inuit colonization of northern Labrador. SAA, Vancouver.


Department of Archaeology

230 Elizabeth Ave

St. John's, NL A1B 3X9 CANADA

Tel: (709) 864-2530

Fax: (709) 864-2552