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The Ontology of Technology : Considering the Potentiality of Natural-Cultural Anthropology through an Analysis of the Inuit Technological-Complex System(<Special Theme>New Horizon of Ethnography on Technology)

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  • 技術のオントロギー : イヌイトの技術複合システムを通してみる自然=文化人類学の可能性(<特集>技術を語る民族誌の新たな地平)
  • 技術のオントロギー : イヌイトの技術複合システムを通してみる自然=文化人類学の可能性
  • ギジュツ ノ オントロギー : イヌイト ノ ギジュツ フクゴウ システム オ トオシテ ミル シゼン=ブンカ ジンルイガク ノ カノウセイ

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Abstract

<p>This paper analyzes an assemblage of technologies practiced by the indigenous Inuit societies in the Canadian Arctic. By proposing a series of technological practices of human beings as world poiesis machines, I examine the potential of the natural-cultural anthropological approach to human technology based on the monistic worldview of nature-human.' For that purpose, I elucidate the mechanism of the Inuit subsistence system in chapter II. In that system, a continual distinction is drawn between Inuit' and 'wildlife.' That world does not have a pre-existing 'nature' vs. 'human' dichotomy, and maintains itself by ceaselessly bringing forth such categories into an ordered and systematized life-world called 'nuna' (land). The practice of subsistence is not only the economic activity that distributes the resources necessary for sustaining life, but also the social practice that ecologically connects the Inuit people with wild animals. Social relationships among the Inuit are provided through such practices. Moreover, the practice of subsistence is also a practice of cultural and ethical activities that actualize the world view that the Inuit strive to achieve. In that sense, the subsistence system of the Inuit lies at the core of their politics, economy, society, and culture, and binds those activities together. In other words, it establishes the order of the life-world with a single breath. As the Inuit often emphasize, it is their way of life that forms the foundation of their lives. In chapter III, I investigate the way in which that subsistence system flexibly incorporates a series of technologies practiced by the Inuit in their society to stabilize their life-world. I focus on the subsistence technologies and ecological knowledge that provide the very foundation of their engagement with wildlife, as well as the societal knowledge and technologies necessary for their social interactions. The establishment of a series of technologies-such as the 'tactical' techniques to entice wild animals in subsistence activities, the ecological knowledge necessary for these activities, and the art of social intercourse to maintain trust and cooperation among the Inuit-is the logical consequence of the subsistence system that ceaselessly establishes and maintains the order of the Inuit life-world. Therefore, such technologies should be understood as coherently-integrated parts of a complex system of technologies according to the principle of a subsistence system. In that system, the circulation of the social relationships among the Inuit and the ecological relationships with various species of wild animals are closed. Nonetheless, the system lets the Inuit acquire all their resources, including food, as well as the means to adjust within their social relationships, including politics and economy; thus, it provides for their entire lives. The Inuit people are connected to the globalized world network, but can also maintain the autonomy of that subsistence as a way of life so long as they continue practicing their subsistence activities within that closed system. Provided that the social relationships among the Inuit and the ecological relationships between humans and wild animals are cyclically generated, the system can maintain itself even if it accommodates things from the outside. As previous anthropological research in the Arctic has indicated, Inuit society can be (and will be) sustained based on the continuing practice of subsistence, even with the introduction of high-tech gadgets into their subsistence techniques, and with the new habit of eating processed food such as hamburgers. In that sense, the technological complex system of the Inuit society can be understood as a world poiesis machine that flexibly creates, stabilizes, and maintains 'nuna' according to the principle of the subsistence system. In chapter</p><p>(View PDF for the rest of the abstract.)</p>

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