This project explores multiple Native cultural contexts that intersect in the use and understanding of intestine. Gut (tissues of internal organs including stomach, intestine, bladder and esophagus) as a raw material was historically used by many circumpolar cultures to make items like drums, raincoats, hats, windows, sails, containers, and hunting floats. These items are abundant in museum collections, but rarely seen today in cultural practice or the art market. Intestine is a natural material that was replaced by synthetic materials, but its dual physical properties of protection and permeability are the only features replicated by plastics. Examination of intestine as an obsolete material reveals both changes and resilience in different kinds of relationships. Emphasizing the meaning and materiality of gut over analysis of artifacts made from it emphasizes interactions among human, animal, and spiritual beings over formalistic approaches privileging object interpretations. Preferential investigation of a raw material over finished artifacts focuses the study on actions and values in Native places. Fieldwork components for this study include documentation of indigenous gut processing, sewing and repair workshops in museum contexts, processing fresh intestine in the Yup’ik village of Scammon Bay, and discussion of gut with Yup’ik cultural experts. The theoretical approach uses Actor-Network Theory (ANT) as a foundation, animated with practice theory and relational ontology. Since ANT creates space for human, animal, and object agency, reciprocal relationships among these actors will be explored through frameworks of materiality, object biography, gender studies, animal personhood, and the gift. This endeavor may promote a new model for the use of material culture to illuminate Native values. In the case of intestine, its decline in use connects to changes in technology and spirituality while resilience and revitalization of gut technology promotes identity and demonstrates traditional values.
|Advisor:||Schweitzer, Peter P.|
|Commitee:||Plattet, Patrick P., Koester, David C., Lee, Molly C., Hill, Erica D.|
|School:||University of Alaska Fairbanks|
|School Location:||United States -- Alaska|
|Source:||DAI-A 82/6(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Cultural anthropology, Museum studies|
|Keywords:||Alaska, Intestine, Museums, Networks, Practice, Yup'ik|
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