Franz Boas among the Inuit of Baffin Island, 1883-1884: Journals and Letters

By Ludger Muller-Wille and William Barr

© 1998

In the summer of 1883, Franz Boas, widely regarded as one of the fathers of Inuit anthropology, sailed from Germany to Baffin Island to spend a year among the Inuit of Cumberland Sound. This was his introduction to the Arctic and to anthropological fieldwork. This book presents, for the first time, his letters and journal entries from the year that he spent among the Inuit, providing not only an insightful background to his numerous scientific articles about Inuit culture, but a comprehensive and engaging narrative as well.

Using a Scottish whaling station as his base, Boas travelled widely with the Inuit, learning their language, living in their tents and snow houses, sharing their food, and experiencing their joys and sorrows. At the same time he was taking detailed notes and surveying and mapping the landscape and coastline. Ludger Müller-Wille has transcribed his journals and his letters to his parents and fiancé and woven these texts into a sequential narrative. The result is a fascinating study of one of the earliest and most successful examples of participatory observation among the Inuit. Originally published in German in 1994, the text has been translated into English by William Barr, who has also published translations of other important works on the history of the Arctic.

Illustrated with some of Boas's own photos and with maps of his field area, Franz Boas among the Inuit of Baffin Island, 1883-1884 is a valuable addition to the historical and anthropological literature on southern Baffin Island.

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Product Details

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  • Page Count: 312 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.4in x 1.1in x 9.3in
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Quick Overview

In the summer of 1883, fledgling anthropologist Franz Boas spent a year among the Inuit of Cumberland Sound, Baffin Island. This book presents in English his letters and journal entries from the year that he spent among the Inuit.

Franz Boas among the Inuit of Baffin Island, 1883-1884: Journals and Letters

By Ludger Muller-Wille and William Barr

© 1998

In the summer of 1883, Franz Boas, widely regarded as one of the fathers of Inuit anthropology, sailed from Germany to Baffin Island to spend a year among the Inuit of Cumberland Sound. This was his introduction to the Arctic and to anthropological fieldwork. This book presents, for the first time, his letters and journal entries from the year that he spent among the Inuit, providing not only an insightful background to his numerous scientific articles about Inuit culture, but a comprehensive and engaging narrative as well.

Using a Scottish whaling station as his base, Boas travelled widely with the Inuit, learning their language, living in their tents and snow houses, sharing their food, and experiencing their joys and sorrows. At the same time he was taking detailed notes and surveying and mapping the landscape and coastline. Ludger Müller-Wille has transcribed his journals and his letters to his parents and fiancé and woven these texts into a sequential narrative. The result is a fascinating study of one of the earliest and most successful examples of participatory observation among the Inuit. Originally published in German in 1994, the text has been translated into English by William Barr, who has also published translations of other important works on the history of the Arctic.

Illustrated with some of Boas's own photos and with maps of his field area, Franz Boas among the Inuit of Baffin Island, 1883-1884 is a valuable addition to the historical and anthropological literature on southern Baffin Island.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 312 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.4in x 1.1in x 9.3in
  • Reviews

    ‘In every way, this book, so painstakingly and completely assembled by Ludger Müller-Wille and ably translated by William Barr from the original German edition (1994), satisfies both my personal and professional musings.’


    George Wenzel
    Arctic

    ‘Professor Müller-Wille should be congratulated on this thorough piece of work, which makes a significant contribution to the history of the social sciences.’


    W. Gillis Ross
    Arctic Anthropology

    ‘In bringing Boas's early work to a wider public, Müller-Wille performs a great service to the scientific community and to Arctic people. The engaging account documents a pivotal period in the development of research ethics and ethnographic method.’


    V. Alia
    Choice Review

    Franz Boas among the Inuit offers  exciting and rewarding reading for both scholars of the ethnohistory of the Canadian Arctic Inuit and students of the “'intellectual history” of anthropology.’


    Igor Krupnik
    Polar Record
  • Author Information

    Ludger Müller-Wille is an associate professor of Geography at McGill University. His book Franz Boas. Bei den Inuit in Baffinland 1883-1884, Tagebücher und Briefe was first published in German by Reinhold Schletzer Verlag, Berlin, in1994.



    William Barr is professor of Geography at the University of Saskatchewan, editor and translator of A Frenchman in Search of Franklin: De Bray's Arctic Journal, 1852-1854, and Overland to Starvation Cove: With the Inuit in Search of Franklin, 1878-1880.

  • Table of contents

    Foreword

    Preface to the Original German Edition

    Preface to the English Edition

    Introduction: Germans and Inuit on Baffin Island in the 1880s

    The Simple Relationships between the Land and the People

    Boas and German Polar Research in the Early 1880s

    Human Environmental Relations in the Arctic: The Ecological Approach

    Fieldwork Methods: T am now truly just like a typical Eskimo'

    Journals and Letters, 1882-1884: The Source Material

    Transcribing and Editing the Texts

    Franz Boas and the Inuit Today

    Abbreviations

    JOURNALS AND LETTERS (MAY 1882 - SEPTEMBER 1884) 1884)

    Period of Preparation in Germany, 1882-1883

    Formulating and Securing the Research Plans

    The Third German Geographers' Conference in Frankfurt a. M.

    Logistical Preparations for the Sojourn in the Arctic

    On Board the Germania from Hamburg to Baffin Island, June-July 1883

    Across the North Sea and the Atlantic

    Off Greenland

    In the Drift and Pack Ice off Baffin Island, July-August 1883

    Reaching K'exerten, Tinixdjuarbing: Meeting the Whalers and Inuit, August-September 1883

    Winding Down the German Polar Station, K'ingua, September 1883

    First Boat Trip with the Inuit to the North End of Tinixdjuarbing

    The Last Days of the German Polar Station

    At the Scottish Whaling Station at K'exerten and Germanids Departure

    Late Fall Boat Trips in the Sound, September-October 1883

    K'exerten

    Journey to Kingnait Fiord

    On Board the Catherine: The First Voyage to Naujateling and Milixdjuax

    Trip to Pangnirtung Fiord

    Trip to Ujarasugdjuling and Exaluaxdjuin

    Investigations at K'exerten, October-December 1883

    Science and Epidemics: Between the Environment and People

    Geographical Names and Maps: Comprehending the Area

    Tidal Observations in the Harbour at K'exerten

    The Inuit's Fall Festival: The Sedna Ritual

    Discontinuation of the Tidal Observations

    Sickness and Death among the Inuit

    Hikes across the Ice: Surveying the K'exerten Archipelago

    By Dogsled across the Pack Ice

    Inuit, Igloos, and Dogs: Journeys on the Ice of Tinixdjuarbing, December 1883 - May 1884

    First Trip to Anarnitung and K'ingua

    A Bitterly Cold March to K'ingua

    The First Time in an Inuit Camp: Anarnitung

    Second Trip to Anarnitung and K'ingua

    K'exerten

    Third Trip to Anarnitung and K'ingua

    First Attempt at Crossing the Kingnait-Padli Pass

    Fourth Trip to Anarnitung and K'ingua

    Trip to Milixdjuax

    Second Trip to Naujateling

    Trip Southeastward to Saumia

    The First 'White' among the Inuit of Ukiadliving

    Return Trip to K'exerten

    Trip to the Northwest to Nettilling Lake

    Second Attempt at Crossing the Kingnait-Padli Pass

    Trip to the West Coast of Tinixdjuarbing: Tarrionitung

    The Last Trip on the Ice of Tinixdjuarbing: Nuvujen

    K'exerten: Preparations for the Trip to Davis Strait

    Overland to Davis Strait: From Kingnait to Padli, May 1884

    Along the East Coast of Baffin Island: Survey Trips on the Sea Ice, May-July 1884

    From Padli to Padloping

    Northward: From Padloping to Tunirn

    Establishing the Base Camp at K'ivitung

    From K'ivitung to Siorartijung

    The Inuit Settlement of Siorartijung: The Most Northerly Point

    Southward: Excruciating Sledging on Late-Summer Ice

    At K'ivitung: Waiting for the Whalers, July-August 1884

    Completion of the Cartographic Work

    Ethnographica, Dictionary, and Stories: Last Notes

    Whalers in Sight

    Leaving the Inuit and the Arctic, August-September 1884

    With the Wolf to K'armaxdjuin and St John's

    On Board the Ardandhu to New York

    Appendix 1 Dog Names

    Appendix 2 Names of Ships and Boats

    Glossary

    English Words

    Inuktitut Words (Eastern Canadian Arctic)

    References

    Index

    Illustrations and maps

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