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Anthropologica (Old Series) 1966

Damas, David. Diversity in White-Eskimo Leadership Interaction. Anthropologica 1966 Vol. 8, No. 1: 45-52

Damas accounts for divergence in the relationship between leaders of two different native communities, one in the Iglulik region, the other in Bathurst Inlet, and the leadership of what he calls “white” leadership. He notes that leadership in the Bathurst communities is weak and subordinate to white authority, whereas Iglulik leadership was strong, effective, and much closer to parity with their Euro-Canadian counterparts. Damas then conducts a brief survey of qualitative, historical features in order to explain how these communities diverged. These qualities include a strong, cohesive vertical authority system in Iglulik based on a rigorous kinship system, as opposed to a diffuse, egalitarian and co-operative Bathurst system with weak, easily bypassed kinship rules; a much superior resource base in Iglulik than in Bathurst; a largely closed, independent trade network in Iglulik as opposed to an environment of trade rivalry influenced by multiple external influences in Bathurst; a deeper level of missionisation in Iglulik than in Bathurst; differential spatial relationships between the communities and administrative centres; and different emigration patterns. Damas finally predicts that the divergence between the two communities will continue on similar paths.

The article presents an excellent sense of the diversity that exists between northern communities and the variety of factors, ecological, social and political, that affect culture change. Damas has a subtle understanding of how the influence of colonialism affects these communities in different ways. He avoids patronizing ethnocentrism, pointing out at one point to the failure of the Canadian legal system to consider traditional practice, and the deleterious effect this has had on Bathurst leadership.

There are weaknesses. A sense of what “leadership interaction” between the Eskimo and whites consists of is almost non-existent. Certainly the issues at stake would have an effect on how much cooperation occurred between the two groups. We also get no indication as to who these Euro-Canadian agents are – we don’t know if they are political leaders, development agents or legal authorities. Damas’ picture is thus left only half filled in.


KRIS MEEN University of Toronto (Krystyna Sieciechowicz)

Denton, Trevor. The Structure of French Canadian Acculturation. Anthropologica 1966 Vol.8(1):29-43.

This article examines the French-English acculturation process that took place in Quebec following the Conquest. In the hopes of gaining a better understanding of the Conquest and the failure of British efforts to assimilate French Canadians, Denton explores the structural changes that occurred during this short-lived era of equilibrium, which spanned from 1759 to 1800. The author rejects the claims of scholars who propose that assimilation failed due to the existence of deeply rooted French Canadian institutions. Furthermore, he suggests that while radical changes did take place among French Canadians in response to British culture, they were not in the form of assimilation.

Denton proceeds to outline these changes through an analysis of three key components: 1) the nature of the conjunctive relations French Canadians and the British at initial contact; 2) the pre-established characteristics embedded within French Canadian culture which influenced the form of the acculturation; 3) the reactive adaptations within the French Canadian community that led to the failure of assimilation. Rather than providing causal reasons for the changes that took place in the post-Conquest era, Denton constructs a model within the broader framework of acculturation theory. Using historical and census data, the author analyses factors such as demography, administrative policy, social and economic structures, and the internal structural changes, especially those taking place in the Church. This evidence is used to support his argument that boundary maintaining devices and self-correcting mechanisms were being put in place by British institutional forces. This had the unintended consequence of creating a stabilized pluralism which saw both French Canadian and English communities living side-by-side yet independent of one another. By 1800, little of the British culture had been adopted by the habitant but they had adapted to the encroaching value system. Faced with social and economic hardships, many French Canadians wanted to share in the control of their community’s social and economic future and this ushered in a new era marked by instability.

Denton does not attempt to develop a grand theory or conclusions concerning French-English acculturation, he simply paints a picture of the processes that were taking shape in a particular era. His argument is convincing and his clear writing style makes this article easy to read although it is somewhat repetitive at times.


AMANDA FOLEY University of Toronto (Krystyna Sieciechowicz)

Jacob, Teuku. Demographic Analysis of a Laboratory Cadaver Population. Anthropologica, 1966 Vol. VIII (No.1-2): 85-99.

In this piece, Jacob provides an analysis of the demographic trends exhibited by the cadaver population of the Laboratory of Anatomy, Gadjah Mada University College of Medicine, Jogjakarta, Indonesia. Using 390 cadavers collected between the years of 1950 and 1962, Jacob presents a comparative analysis based on length of life and diseases suffered at the time of death.

Part 1 of the article outlines the “material and method” of Jacob’s study. Demographic data is organized in tables classifying the places of origin and age groups of the cadavers according to sex. Jacob indicates the sources of data as anatomical records obtained from hospitals, penitentiaries, social institutions and police stations. Acknowledging a potential for unreliable estimation of age and cause of death, Jacob quickly dismisses the possible inaccuracies of the data despite their “inexact” nature.

In part 2, Jacob presents the results of his study, summarized in the following categories: years of death, place of origin of the cadavers, age, terminal diseases according to sex, and terminal disease according to anatomical system. These findings are discussed in part 3, where Jacob contextualizes the data into a comparative framework with samples from the U.S., West Africa, the U.K., and Germany.

This study appears to be an attempt to use the methods of physical anthropology to understand social and demographic trends in wider Indonesian society. However, as a medical anthropological inquiry, the emphasis on (potentially inaccurate) anatomical records fails to account for the social and cultural experience of illness. Also, the use of comparison in this study is problematic. Jacob does not reveal the basis of the samples used for comparison, nor does he elucidate what is learned through a comparative statistical analysis of this sort.


EMMA JO AIKEN University of Toronto (Krystyna Sieciechowicz)

Vallee, Frank G. Eskimo Theories of Mental Illness in the Hudson Bay Region. Anthropologica, 1966 Vol.VIII (1): 53-83.

The author’s concern is that the practice of describing, explaining and treating mental illnesses that has been developed within one kind of society cannot necessarily be transferred to a different cultural context. He claims, however, that a phenomenological approach allows an observer to describe what the people of the study say and do about what the observer classifies as a mental disorder. This approach is called for when dealing with relatively homogenous groups of people that have a history of being attributed certain forms of illnesses, such as alcoholism, hysteria or schizophrenia, or, in this context, pibloktoq, a form for hysteria, among the Inuit population in Canada’s Eastern Arctic. Previous research suggests that mental disorders other than pibloktoq are rare or absent among the Inuits, but that when these disorders do occur, they are a result of contact with the Euro-American population.

Vallee conducted a study of the prevalence, cause and treatment of mental illnesses among individual Inuits during six weeks of fieldwork in the Eastern Hudson Bay region in 1963. His evidence is based on case studies of 31 persons, of which three cases are observed firsthand. The remaining cases are based on information from non-indigenous as well as indigenous informants. His criteria for the identification of mental breakdown are: incapacity of the person to perform in some or all of his normal roles, accompanied by behavioral oddity as defined by informants.

In his study, Vallee found four patterns of symptoms: epilepsy (qiirsurtuq), simple hysteria (no Inuit single word description), compulsive withdrawal with melancholy (qissaatuq and quvarpuq), and, manic depression with paranoia (quajimaillituq). In the article, Vallee mainly focuses on description and treatment of the last two disorders, qissaatuq and quajimaillituq. The main observations about these two illnesses are that they often are experienced in a Christian religious context and that the white population often is called in to assist in handling the situation.

Vallee concludes the article with the observation that a variety of mental disorders in addition to pibloktoq have been present among the Inuits in the Eastern Hudson Bay region at least since the 1940s, with or without intensive contact with Euro-Americans. He emphasizes, however, that his study is chiefly descriptive, and that further research is encouraged.

The evidence for Vallee’s conclusion is scant and the article offers more questions than answers. Nevertheless, his research appears as an open minded step in the direction of stripping away cultural stereotypes.


CATHRINE MAGELSSEN University of Toronto (Krystyna Sieciechowicz)