Save this PDF as:

Size: px
Start display at page:



1 ILLUSTRATIONS AND TABLES... ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS... XVII FOREWORD BY JACQUES GALINIER... XV XIX INTRODUCTION The night, the Inuit, the survey I. ON NIGHTTIME... 3 The night from humanities and social sciences perspectives... 3 The constitution of a new anthropological object... 6 What can be said of the night in the Arctic and among the Inuit?.. 6 II. PEOPLE, PLACES AND THEIR HISTORY... 8 The people of Tununiq (the Mittimatalik area)... 9 The Mittimatalingmiut and their community The Inuit language and sociolinguistic dimensions III. ORIGIN OF THE DATA AN ETHNOLINGUISTIC APPROACH Observations Written sources The morphosemantic analysis Interviews The corpus IV. STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK Brief presentation of the main interlocutors met during fieldwork in Baffin Island CHAPTER I FIRST PART The night setting THE ARCTIC NIGHT: WESTERN VERSUS INUIT REPRESENTATIONS I. A Western vision marked by bold stereotypes Their construction and components From over simplistic observations to adequate descriptions... 46

2 X II. Inuit representations go beyond the arctic night The space-time dimension among the Inuit The seasonal cycle The lunar-solar calendar Winter darkness in high latitudes: taujuq and tauvigjuaq The twenty-four-hour cycle III. Winter is not a long night CHAPTER II DAILY NIGHT: UNNUAQ/UNNUATTAK I. Where are night s limits? Physical night markers: time and astral movements Physiological and social markers of the night II. Learning and experiencing the night Back to early childhood Me and my body III. Being awake at night IV. Night, a subjective reality CHAPTER III ORIGIN STORIES I. How did darkness/light and death/life cycles arise? Teachings from pre-christian accounts The advent of Christianity II. The creation of the celestial bodies and ordering of the world.. 91 The mythical origin of the sun, the moon and the stars What the shamanic lexicon reveals about the sun and the moon III. Contemporary testimonies: tensions between Inuit and Biblical accounts A fundamentally Christian cosmology Persistence of pre-christian beliefs IV. Between breaks and continuities CHAPTER IV DARKNESS AND LIGHT: WHAT DO THESE CONCEPTS CONVEY? I. Darkness and shamanic performances Darkness as condition of practices The lexical field of darkness: what can be learnt from it?

3 XI II. Qaumaniq: a polysemous term for light The shaman s attribute From shaman s clairvoyance to Christian prayer A light in the darkness III. Darkness and light in the worlds of the dead Darkness and Christian beliefs on afterlife abodes Pre-Christian Inuit beliefs on afterlife abodes IV. The colored aspect of shamans helping spirits V. Mythical and ritual soot marking: decisive darkening The blackness of the raven The marking of the moon Female tattooing VI. Darkness and light, an old alliance overturned by Christianity 135 CHAPTER V SECOND PART Asleep or awake at night SLEEPING TECHNIQUES: PAST AND PRESENT ETHNOGRAPHY I. Where and how does one sleep? The snow house The semi subterranean house The tent The organization of sleep in semi nomadic dwellings Contemporary dwellings II. Sleeping/waking cycles From spring to early fall From fall to early spring III. What do people do before and after sleeping? Customs before sleeping Upon waking IV. Inuit sleep configurations CHAPTER VI DREAM ADVENTURES I. Specificities of Inuit dreaming and related experiences Sinnaktuumaniq and takutitauniq: dreams and visions Aqtuqsinniq or uqumangirniq: sleep paralysis

4 XII Origins attributed to oneiric experiences II. Functions and social implications of dreaming Narratives from classical ethnography The effects of conversion to Christianity on dreams Dream conceptions in contemporary Inuit society On sharing dreams III. Oneiric experiences and their potential dangers Dreams: between positive and negative poles A singular and ambiguous experience: the fantasmagoric spouse CHAPTER VII OUTLINE OF A THEORY: SLEEP, A LITTLE VALUED STATE I. An Inuit conception of sleep An overall little valued state Those who are sinnaaqtaujuq victims of an attack while asleep II. Seasonal patterns of sleeping III. Radical pragmatism CHAPTER VIII TRAVELING AT NIGHT I. Traveling: between necessity and pleasure Traveling in the light night Traveling in the dark II. Lights in the dark Moonlight Colors in the sky: the stars and northern lights Dark days and twilight hours The phenomenon called taulittuq III. Night traveling is different THIRD PART Night s imprints on life or the properties of night CHAPTER IX BIRTH, ILLNESS AND DEATH: WHAT THEY TEACH US ABOUT THE NIGHT I. Birth Influence attributed to the weather and seasons

5 XIII Being born by day or night II. Illness Past and present aetiology Illness, seasons and astral movements Circadian variability in illness Is illness an emanation of the night? III. Death Pre-Christian conceptions of death Pre-Christian funerary rites Contemporary funerary practices Articulations between death and night IV. Birth, illness and death show differentiated night imprints CHAPTER X IS THE NIGHT FEARSOME? I. A brief comparison of fear, night and darkness II. Fear and its lexical expression in Inuktitut III. Old fears from interactions between humans and nonhumans: never be alone at night or by day! IV. Contemporary discourse on fear and night Childhood recollections (ca ) Fears caused by Christianity Fears as they are experienced today V. Between darkness and sleep: where do nocturnal fears nestle first? CONCLUSION Thoughts on the Inuit night and an anthropology of the night I. CONTRASTED NIGHTS The Western night The northern Inuit night II. SHORTCOMINGS AND DIFFICULTIES OF THE FIELDWORK III. FOR AN ANTHROPOLOGY OF THE NIGHT Bodies, spoken words and the night

6 XIV ANNEXES 1. Demographic data from the Canadian Censuses of population in 2006 and The circumpolar moon Account of a shaman s journey to the moon, collected in South Baffin Island Typology and characteristics of nonhuman beings in some Inuit regions according to classical ethnography Christian representations of light and darkness conveyed by Anglican hymns Lexicon pertaining to sleeping positions Dream stories from Mittimatalik A brief compendium of how night, darkness and death are intertwined in the Western world BIBLIOGRAPHY GLOSSARY OF INUIT TERMS INDEX OF QUOTES FROM INTERVIEWEES INDEX OF THEMES