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William W. Fitzhugh, Valérie Chaussonnet
Smithsonian, Mar 17, 1994 - Social Science - 379 pages
Investigating the anthropology, history, and art of the North Pacific rim from a comparative, trans-Beringian perspective, the essays in this book demonstrate that this region, often thought to be an icy, fog-bound vastness at the end of the world, more resembles an arctic Mediterranean, rich in material resources and cultural diversity. Presenting scholarship and artifact collections originating in the former Soviet Union and the Americas, the book reflects the renewal of a long-standing yet interrupted discourse on arctic cultures begun in 1598 when Jose de Acosta first proposed affinities between American Indians and the peoples of Asia. The essays in the first section address the intellectual and historical issues that have motivated North Pacific anthropology, including the prehistoric origins of arctic peoples, possible patterns of contact and diffusion, and the influence of the Morris Jesup Expedition (1898-1903), led by Franz Boas - the first expedition capable of confirming the extent and nature of arctic exchanges. Other essays delve into specific northern maritime cultures, revealing in examples of clothing styles, iconography, dance, watercraft, settlement patterns, and social organization a degree of social complexity surpassing that of many simple chiefdoms in more temperate areas. A final group of pieces explore the interactions and exchanges between Siberian, Alaskan, and Northwest coast cultures from prehistoric times to the present. Tracing the rise of trading relationships, the impact of white presence, and the prevalence of violence and war in northern cultures, these essays focus on the demographic, technical, linguistic, and biological dimensions of socioculturalchange.

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About the author (1994)

Fitzhugh is director of the Arctic Studies Center and curator of anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

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