Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA)
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
Contemporary Inuit subsistence culture has evolved what is best described as a mixed economy adaptation consisting of two intertwined sectors: one based in the production, distribution and consumption of socially valued food resources (the traditional sector) and the other in which money is a scarce, but critical, resource and externally recognized standard of valuation (the market sector). This hybrid functions through the variable articulation of each sector’s respective currency. Addressed here are the antimonies between the two economic forms that comprise the mixed economy adaptation lived by most Inuit today. The tension (really tensions) is rooted in the objectives toward which each sector is directed: in the market side it is efficiency and the individual; in the traditional sector society and collective sustainable sufficiency. Reality, for the mixed economy and for Inuit, is that each sector is inherently different in its governing rules. In consequence, Inuit have to now be as responsive to an “environment” that includes a political economy with monetary requirements, time constraints and opportunity costs as they were, and are, to the rhythms and changes in the Northern ecosystem.