Peter J. Whitridge


Head of Department


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


Phone: (709) 864-2394 / (709) 864-8192
Office: QC 4010 / QC 2002

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).
Elliott, Deirdre (in progress). Research topic: Labrador Inuit Whaling. (Co-supervised with Dr. Lisa Rankin)

M.A. Theses

Carlson, Ivan (in progress). Research topic. tbd. (Co-supervised with Dr. Véronique Forbes).
Wilson, Sarah (in progress). Research topic: tbd. (Co-supervised with Dr. Lisa Rankin).
Levasseur, Francois P. (in progress). Research topic: Nodes, Edges, and Networks: Dorset harpoon edge variability in the Eastern Arctic and Subarctic.
Craig, David (in progess). Research topic: Inuit Trails: GIS Modelling and Experiential Ground Survey of Past Travel Routes in Saglek Bay, Labrador. (SSHRC Fellowship).

  • Walley, Meghan (2018): Examining Precontact Inuit Gender Complexity and its Discursive Potential for LGBTQ2S+ and Decolonization Movements.
  • Elliott, Deidre (2017). Investigating the Effect of European Contact on Inuit-Animal Interactions in Labrador.
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 2018. The government of dogs. In Relational Engagements of the Indigenous Americas: Alterity, Ontology, and Shifting Paradigms, edited by Melissa Balthus and Sarah Baires, pp. 21-39. Lexington Books, Lanham.

Whitridge, Peter and T. Max Friesen (guest editors) 2016. Advances in Arctic Archaeology. Open Archaeology 2(1).

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. [PDF 2.3mb]

Whitridge, Peter, 2016. Classic Thule (Precontact Inuit). In Oxford Handbook of Arctic Archaeology, edited by Max Friesen and Owen Mason. Oxford University Press, Oxford. [PDF 660kb]

Whitridge, Peter, 2016. Fractal Worlds An Archaeology of Nested Spatial Scales. Arctic 69, Suppl. 1: 1-10. [PDF 888kb]

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. [PDF 2.6mb]

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. [PDF 1.4mb]

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. [PDF 924kb]

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. [PDF 563kb]

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. [PDF 3.7mb]

Whitridge, Peter, 2008. Reimagining the iglu: modernity and the challenge of the eighteenth century Labrador Inuit winter house. Archaeologies 4(2): 288-309. [PDF 361kb]

Whitridge, Peter, 2004. Whales, Harpoons, and Other Actors: Actor-Network-Theory and Hunter-Gatherer Archaeology. In Hunters and Gatherers in Theory and Archaeology, edited by George Crothers, pp. 445–474. Center for Archaeological Investigations, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Occasional Papers. [PDF 3.6mb]

Whitridge, Peter, 2004. Landscapes, Houses, Bodies, Things: “Place” and the Archaeology of Inuit Imaginaries. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 11(2): 213-250. [PDF 893kb]

Whitridge, Peter, 2002. Social and Ritual Determinants of Whale Bone Transport at a Classic Thule Winter Site in the Canadian Arctic. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 12, 65-75. [PDF 291kb]

Whitridge, Peter, 2002. Gender, Households, and the Material Construction of Social Difference: Metal Consumption at a Classic Thule Whaling Village. In Many Faces of Gender: Roles and Relationships Through Time in Indigenous Northern Communities, edited by Lisa Frink, Rita Shepard and Gregory Reinhardt, pp. 165–192. University Press of Colorado, Boulder. [PDF 2.2mb]

Whitridge, Peter, 2001. Zen Fish: A Consideration of the Discordance between Artifactual and Zooarchaeological Indicators of Thule Inuit Fish Use. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 20: 3–72 [PDF 988kb]

Whitridge, Peter, 1999. The prehistory of Inuit and Yupik whale use. Revista de Arqueologia Americana 16: 99-154 [PDF 19.8mb]

Whitridge, Peter, 1999. The construction of social difference in a prehistoric Inuit whaling community. Ph.D Dissertation. Department of Anthropology, Arizona State University. [PDF 17.3mb]

Morrison, D., and P. Whitridge, 1997. Estimating the Age and Sex of Caribou from Mandibular Measurements. Journal of Archaeological Science 24: 1093-1106. [PDF 194kb]

Lyman, R.L., Savelle, J. M., and P. Whitridge, 1992. Derivation and application of a meat utility index for Phocid seals. Journal of Archaeological Sciences 19: 531-555. [PDF 1.5mb]

Whitridge, Peter, 1992. Thule subsistence and optimal diet, A zooarchaeological test of a linear programming model. M.A Thesis. Department of Anthropology, McGill University. [PDF 4.1mb]

Recent Presentations

Whitridge, Peter and Mari Kleist (in prep). Necrontology: Housing the dead in precontact Labrador and Greenland. Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA), Austin.

Whitridge, Peter 2018. Arctic heterotopias: Qariyit as queer spaces in precontact Inuit communities. Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA), Washington.

Whitridge, Peter 2017 Floating world: Precontact Inuit bird figurines as ontological puzzles. Annual Meeting of the North American Theoretical Archaeology Group (NA-TAG), Toronto.

Whitridge, Peter and Erica Hill (chairs) 2017. Reimagining human-animal relations in the circumpolar north (organized session). Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA), Vancouver.

Whitridge, Peter 2017. Manufacturing reality: Inuit harvesting depictions and the domestication of human-animal relations. Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA), Vancouver.

Whitridge, Peter and Anatolijs Venovcevs 2016. Operational landscape of northern toponyms: A Google Maps-based approach for presenting place name data. Twentieth Inuit Studies Conference, St. John’s.

Whitridge, Peter 2016. Ambiguous beings: The ontological status of Inuit dogs. Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA), Orlando.

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, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000