Academic journal article The Canadian Journal of Native Studies

Anthropology and Ethnicity's Interplay among First Nations in Canada: The Case of Quebec

Academic journal article The Canadian Journal of Native Studies

Anthropology and Ethnicity's Interplay among First Nations in Canada: The Case of Quebec

Article excerpt

Abstract / Résumé

This article presents Quebec as a multicultural province which is ethnically polarized in such a way to affect the formation processes of Indigenous ethnology styles. The data presented here are of three kinds: political chronology, interethnic relations, and collective demands. It is our expectation to promote by this brief presentation Quebec's uniqueness as an ethnographic case study for the research of the development of styles of ethnology in national contexts.

L'article présente le Québec comme une province multiculturelle qui est polarisée sur le plan ethnique d'une manière qui a des incidences sur les processus de formation de styles d'ethnologie autochtones. Les données présentées traitent de la chronologie politique, des relations interethniques et des exigences collectives. Le bref article vise à promouvoir le caractère unique du Québec à titre d'étude de cas ethnographique de l'élaboration des styles d'ethnologie dans des contextes nationaux.

Introduction

The paper presented here was developed under the Research Project (CNPq/Department of Anthropology - UnB/Brazil) entitled: "Comparative Ethnology: Brazil, Australia, and Canada with additional research projects among Indian populations in Brazil." Canadian Studies have been offering comparative insights regarding anthropological advocacy issues toward Indigenous or Aboriginal societies among national states facing major development projects. This research project (for which this is only a brief description) consists in a scientific investigation of official politics designed for Native, Aboriginal, or Indigenous populations situated under the wardship or tutelage of nation-states.

Its main concern consists in the anthropological analyzes of the remaking of ethnic identities of social groups involved by these politics. In this sense, the main theoretical problem of this paper relates to the constitution of the public ethnicity of Fist Nations in Canada (Weaver, 1984) and its impact over the formation of styles of ethnology in this country.

The attempt to understand how Native populations have been maintaining their ethnic identity and cultural diversity within national states such as Brazil and Canada has not been new. Nevertheless, the crosscultural approach between Brazilian and Canadian politics regarding its minorities has not been done as often as it could. For this reason the theoretical problems traditionally faced by Ethnology in Brazil are comparable to the theoretical problems faced by Ethnology in Canada (which implies a redefinition of both ethnological traditions in wider terms).

The overall problem is to identify how different sectors of society and government define the "Indian problem" (Dych, 1996) in both national contexts. To put it in other words we might say that the main question is how Indigenous, Aboriginal, or Native claims are transformed into "problems" in order to be dealt with by public policies of the State or by advocacy projects created by anthropologists as consultants or by the Indians themselves. How does it happen and how has it been anthropologically thought in the Canadian context are the two major questions to be initially treated under this faculty research program.

The comparative exercise between Brazil and Canada will contribute theoretically to a better understanding of how Ethnology as a scientific discipline has been applied to different national contexts towards its Native minorities. The four-week experience in Canada offered by the "Faculty Research Program" helped as an empirical starting point to notice emerging questions and redefine common problems to both nations and First Nations. This contributes specifically to current investigations held in Brazil by anthropologists interested in the impact of their works and researches over the lives of those they study. "Canadian Studies" are an important point of departure to new research questions, methodologies, and comparative investigations that has to critically elucidate ethnic, political, and ethnic aspects of both national states' official policies towards Indigenous, Aboriginal, or Native minorities. …

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