Ways of Knowing: Experience, Knowledge, and Power among the Dene Tha

By Jean-Guy A. Goulet | Go to book overview

Preface

I initiated fieldwork among the Dene Tha in July 1979, and in the course of the twelve following years I spent a total of thirty-six months among them, investigating the processes whereby they represent themselves--to themselves and to others--as an indigenous population with a distinctive world view, epistemology, and ethics. They have retained this distinctive culture despite more than a century of ever increasing participation in numerous Euro-Canadian institutions--economic, religious, educational, medical, political, and judicial.1 Over the years, as I became more and more involved in Dene Tha lives and ritual activities; I gained a better appreciation of their view of "true knowledge" as personal knowledge. This has led me to investigate Dene Tha social life in the "experiential mode" that Frederick Barth, Michael Jackson, Barbara Tedlock, Unni Wikan, and others have referred to as "radical participation." Recent developments in contemporary anthropology, in particular the anthropology of experience ( Bruner 1986a, 1986b, 1993; V. Turner 1985, 1986), narrative ethnography ( B. Tedlock 1991a, 1992), and ethnomethodologically inspired analysis of DeneTha verbatim records ( G. Watson 1992, 1996), have come to inform my writing. I now see accounts of personal experience as an integral part of the ethnographic description.

This book is a narrative ethnography and an ethnomethodogically inspired analysis of accounts of experiences lived by both the Dene Tha and myself, as the anthropologist interacting with them. It makes use, with permission gratefully acknowledged, of material published in Culture ( 1989), the Journal of Anthropological Research ( 1994a), and the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute ( 1996b), as well as of material used in other publications for which I have retained use rights: parts of an article in the Canadian Journal of Anthropology ( 1982); parts of a chapter in Amerindian Rebirth, published by the University of Toronto Press ( 1994b); parts of a chapter in Being Changed by Cross-Cultural Encounters, published by Broadview Press ( 1994c); and parts of a chapter in Shamanism and Northern Ecology, published by Mouton

-ix-

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Ways of Knowing: Experience, Knowledge, and Power among the Dene Tha
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xiii
  • 1. Stories from the Field 1
  • 2. True Knowledge and True Responsibility 27
  • 3. Powerful Beings and Being Powerful 60
  • 4. Powers to Heal, Powers to Respect 88
  • 5. Visions of Conflict, Conflicts of Vision 109
  • 6. Journeys of the Soul 142
  • 7. Searching for a Womb 167
  • 8. When the Drum and the Rosary Meet 193
  • 9. Dancing Your Way to Heaven 223
  • 10. An Experiential Approach to Knowledge 246
  • Notes 261
  • References 287
  • Index 329
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