B.A. (Anthropology), McGill University
Non-binary gender; shamanism; pre-contact Inuit; queer theory; post-colonial archaeology; Eastern Arctic.
Gender is a major axis of identity used to examine Inuit prehistory. Until we gain an ontologically nuanced understanding of Pre-Contact gender systems, our interpretations will be inherently flawed. Ethnographic evidence and Inuit mythology and oral histories suggest that western scholarship has relied too heavily on a rigid binary system of gender in the interpretation of the Inuit past. My research will aim to develop a more complex understanding of the Pre-Contact Inuit gender system, taking into account gender-fluid or non-binary expressions. Using this model, I will focus on the role of the angakok, or Inuit shaman, who held fluid social positions and were able to assume a variety of gender roles. To this end, I will re-examine the artifact assemblages and architecture of kariyit, or ceremonial houses, at several previously excavated Pre-Contact sites throughout the Eastern Arctic. Although the ritual position of the angakok is not the sole expression of non-binary Inuit gender, this work will provide a basis for further research from which more complex understandings of gender may emerge.