UC Berkeley Tourism Studies Working Group - news_detail   

2023-2024 Colloquium Series

"From Tarktuk - the darkness (of the North) to Qaumajuk - the light (of the Winnipeg Art Gallery): Transformations in Canadian Inuit Arts."

Kanaginginak, 1975         
Tim Pitsiulak, 2011        
Gayle Uyagaki Kabloonak, 2023

Nelson Graburn, Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Anthropology
Co-Chair, Tourism Studies Working Group
University of California, Berkeley

Friday, September 22nd, 3:30PM-5PM PDT
Join the Zoom webinar [click here

*There is no password needed to join this meeting. However, please ensure that you are logged into your Zoom account before clicking on the meeting link.

During the more than sixty years that Nelson Graburn has been visiting the Canadian North, studying and experimenting with Canadian Inuit arts, and living and communicating with Inuit artists, life in the North and the life situations of Inuit artists have undergone a huge revolution. Not only have schools, governments, electricity in permanent housing, and communications by plane, phone and internet “urbanized” the North, but Inuit artists have become aware of their global context and the art world itself, and many have undertaken professional educations in the arts and crafts, and moved to live in the South.

The original generation of artists – Kananginak, Qirnuajuak (Kenojuak), Charlie and Aisa Shivuarapik, Jessie Oonark were pleased with the colonizers’ interest in and payment for their products and soon were proud to project images of their material and spiritual world to the outsiders. After the massive installation of schools, wooden houses, government services and new forms of communication, those living in the North became more aware of the significance of their “arts”, their place as “icons” of Canadianness, as well as their relative poverty and their former very different and limited world view. A new generation incorporated views of and from the outside world and, often becoming relatively wealthy, they increasingly visited the South, to sell their works, attend openings and exhibitions, attend schools and colleges, and for vacations.

They also became aware of their “relatives” in Greenland and Alaska and, like them, they won political rights and agreements and degrees of self-government. A few Canadian Inuit, like Alaskans in the USA and Greenlanders going to Denmark, settled to practice and sell their arts in the South. By 2000 nearly a quarter of Canadian Inuit lived in the South, for schooling, social and marital ties, employment – and by preference, escaping the poverty, addictions – and cold – of the North. So a younger generation of artists live in the South, even if they wore born in the North, and practice many art forms, like Qallunaat (white) and other indigenous contemporary artists. Theirs is no longer “tourist art” but it remains an “ethnic art”, expressing their contemporary identities, struggles, and views of their ancestral culture. Their arts remain proud – and exploited – icons of Canadian identity, but also express strong Circumpolar and postcolonial feelings.

Speaker Bio
Nelson Graburn first lived in the North in 1959 and again in 1960, as a
student at McGill and an employee of the Federal Government of Canada. He was struck by
the creativity of Inuit artists and the importance of their sanasimayangiit (things we made) in
their personal, cultural and economic lives. After his PhD at the U. Of Chicago, he returned
again to live in 23 Inuit communities in the North, in 1963-64, 1967-68, 1972, 1976, 1986,
1996, 2000, 2004 with shorter visits thereafter. He first published about Inuit art, as ‘Airport
Art’ in Canada (1967) and examined comparable movements among the world’s other
indigenous peoples, in Ethnic and Tourist Arts (1976). He has continued to research, teach
and publish about contemporary art, heritage, identity and tourism – and he communicates
almost daily with the Inuit, their children and grandchildren in the North via the Internet.

web design fgi ©2021 Tourism Studies Working Group is an advanced tourism studies and research forum
U.C. Berkeley | v.1.0 | updated: 27 Jan 2010