Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Anthropology, McGill University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2002
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of California / Berkeley
Life in Question: Knowledge and Ethics in the Debate over Inuit Suicide

My dissertation fieldwork will focus on the production of knowledge about suicide in a society (Inuit) that is struggling to define its place in a modern nation-state (Canada). The tension between different geographical sites of power and knowledge (Iqaluit-Pangnirtung-Toronto) and different modes of knowing (traditional Inuit knowledge versus scientific medical discourse) is central to my research. I argue that the study of suicide brings to the fore questions about the value of life, the meaning of death and what it means to be alive and human at this point in history. My hypothesis is that each group of "stakeholders" in the debate over Inuit suicide brings to the table conflicting (and often implicit) answers to such questions, thereby complicating public debate, and simultaneously creating a domain where understandings of reality are contested. This contestation is central to the creation of a new ethics that will shape the kinds of interactions that are possible in the future and the kinds of human beings we will become.