Learning Sealing: Traditional Knowledge Strengthening Awareness of Being Greenlandic Today

By Sally Rosendahl

This thesis investigates in which ways learning ‘traditional’ knowledge such as seal hunting is a strengthening factor for the awareness of being Greenlandic today. It looks at knowledge transfer between one generation and the next as well as the role of knowledge transfer in the education system. Finally, the tension or interplay between possessing traditional knowledge and living as a modern people is discussed. Through primarily using qualitative research in the shape of interviews of twelve individuals, this thesis draws on examples from various kinds of education, while accounts from staff at the Children’s Home Uummannaq and from young Greenlanders also provide information on passing of knowledge outside the educational system. The data will be analysed drawing on a range of theories from the cross-disciplinary field of my study, naming Fikret Berkes’ model on traditional ecological knowledge, Thomas La Belle’s theories on informal versus formal education, Gayatri Spivak’s theory on the voices of the subalterns and epistemic violence, and Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities, to name a few examples. This thesis presents voices of particular Greenlanders rather than attempting to account for the Greenlandic people as a whole, and through these voices it is shown that learning sealing in a symbolic or a practical way strengthens the awareness of young Greenlanders.

Read thesis at Munin