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Being and Becoming in a World That Won't Stand Still – The Case of Metlakatla

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Abstract:

Recently, the historical validity of concepts of aboriginality has been questioned. It is argued here that aboriginality has been and remains a significant feature of identity and a source of cultural renewal in a rapidly changing world. The nature of aboriginality must always be qualified and contextualized. In Canada, a specific notion of aboriginality is an administrative tool of government that at all times is partially accepted and partially opposed by those so defined and administrated. In the example described here, the missionary William Duncan denied the concept of aboriginality presented by his Tsimshian flock as well as that enunciated by the Canadian government. Today, the descendants of these mission communities have ontological identities linked not only to Christian modernity but also to Tsimshian aboriginality defined one way by the government and quite differently by each local community.

Keywords: ABORIGINALITY; ADMINISTRATION; CHRISTIAN UTOPIA; ETHNIC IDENTITY; MATERIAL PROGRESS; TSIMSHIAN

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3167/015597705780996255

Publication date: March 1, 2005

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  • Social Analysis has long been at the forefront of anthropology's engagement with the humanities and other social sciences. In forming a critical, concerned, and empirical perspective, it encourages contributions that break away from the disciplinary bounds of anthropology and suggest innovative ways of challenging hegemonic paradigms through 'grounded theory', analysis based in original empirical research. The journal invites contributions directed toward a critical and theoretical understanding of cultural, political, and social processes, as well as the work of active ethnographic researchers who study the forces involved in the production of human suffering, poverty, prejudice, war, and violence.
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