• A comparison of landscape categorization in Inuit-Yupik and Dene languages in Alaska

      Holton, Gary (2012-10-26)
      The landscape domain poses a significant challenge for linguistic categorization, since unlike more discrete domains such as zoology and botany, the landscape domain lacks an etic grid on which to base linguistic categories (Turk et al. 2012). Thus, it is not surprising that there is significant cross-linguistic variation in the way landscape terms are ontologized (Burenhult and Levinson 2008). While Alaska itself exhibits great diversity in landforms, a large swath of country extending from the Bering coast to the Canadian border is shared two very different language families: Inuit-Yupik and Dene. Preliminary studies of landscape terminology in these two language families suggest that Dene languages emphasize vertical features and mountain valleys, while Inuit-Yupik languages are less concerned with vertical scale and the notion of valley (Holton 2011). The current paper compares the semantics of landscape terms in Inupiaq, Yup’ik, Dena’ina, and Koyukon, four languages which are spoken along the boundary between Inuit-Yupik and Dene. In addition, the structures of Inuit-Yupik and Dene spatial orientation systems are compared.
    • Contemporary Inuit political identity and transnational processes

      Bender, Cori D. (2012-08)
      Understanding how local political identities are shaped by transnational networks can produce insight into the relationships among global processes, local identities, and the state. This ethnographic exploration of circumpolar transnational processes provides an understanding of the social and cultural factors influencing political identity among the Inuit of the United States. I ask how the local Alaska branch of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC-AK) connects to a broader transnational Indigenous network, and how those networks influence Inuit political identity locally and globally. The following thesis suggests that, despite an increase in cultural influences across national borders due to globalization, political identities remain tied to local and national influences. Moreover, the transnational movements of local political identities may be impeded by national borders and State regulations, revealing the continued importance of the nation-state, rather than its demise in an increasingly globalized world.