Inuit Art and Subsistence Economy Session at Aberdeen Conference

10 March 2000

This message details another session at the 12th Inuit Studies Conference at
the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. The organizer, Molly Lee can be
reached at The previous ArcticInfo about the Inuit Studies
Conference can be found at:$arcticinfo_get_388
A complete list of sessions planned for the 12th Inuit Studies Conference
can be found at:

Contemporary Inuit Art and the Subsistence Economy
A Panel Discussion at the
The 12th Inuit Studies Conference
University of Aberdeen, Scotland
23-26 August 2000

Dear Colleagues,

Life on the land is a key symbol of Inuit/Eskimo identity. Today, however,
maintaining a family in rural areas of the North depends on steady
injections of cash for buying the equipment - fishing boats, snow mobiles,
gas and motors - on which subsistence now depends. One reliable source of
the cash boost is the sale of Inuit art to outsiders. In addition to its
economic dimensions, the sale of art is the only Inuit way of generating
revenue. Most non-Native consumers value Inuit art made from the products
of subsistence activities. From fur, feathers and fish skin come imaginative
dolls, from soapstone Inuit carvings, and from walrus ivory, small replicas
of the animals who figure importantly in Inuit culture. Thus, subsistence
and art making are critically interdependent.

Yet a number of different factors currently threaten Inuit life on the land.
In Alaska, the question of rural priority for fish and game is a hotly
contended political issue, and across the North, economic conditions are
leading to urban migration. Furthermore, hunting and fishing laws
increasingly restrict Native people’s access to traditional sources of food
and products used in art making.

This panel will take a broad approach to the art/subsistence relationship.
Papers such as case studies attesting to its importance, creative solutions
to problems the Inuit are encountering in their struggle to maintain both,
and/or theoretical approaches to this topic are welcome.


Molly Lee, Organizer
University of Alaska Museum and Department of Anthropology
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Phone 907-474-7828