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"Spoken Language is a Prison": Ways of Belonging and Speaking in North-west Greenland

Polar image (c) Stephen Leonard
Thursday, January 21, 2016 -
2:00pm to 3:30pm
Radcliffe Humanities Building, Woodstock Road, Oxford
Seminar Room

"Spoken Language is a Prison": Ways of Belonging and Speaking in North-west Greenland" is an audio-visual lecture will be hosted by the TORCH Nordic Network. The speaker is Stephen Leonard (University of Oxford).

‘Speaking’ and ‘belonging’ have a particular salience as indices of intimacy in a remote corner of north-west Greenland where connectedness is constantly reinforced through a distinct commonality of expression and certain social practices, such as very frequent visiting of one another, story-telling, recycling of names and a shared monistic philosophy. The Inugguit define themselves by a repertoire of communicative and behavioural strategies which are used to ensure that one is accepted in a supportive kin group – the perennial social and personal imperative for each member of the group. This paper shows how despite social and climatic upheaval, these practices remain, but that the hunters’ ‘symbiotic’ relationship with nature is eroding as the loss of sea ice means they can no longer live like the animals they hunt.

Contact name: 
Stephen Leonard
Audience: 
Open to all