"Unsympathetic Users" : An Ethnoarchaeological Examination of Inuit Responses to the Changing Nature of the Built Environment

  • Peter C. Dawson
Keywords: Acculturation, Community development, Culture (Anthropology), Design and construction, Economic conditions, Gender differences, Government, Health, Houses, Housing, Inuit, Inuit archaeology, Mental health and well-being, Neoeskimo culture, Planning, Psychology, Social conditions, Social interaction, Social policy, Spatial distribution, Thule culture, Canadian Arctic


Recent trends in modern architectural theory stress the dynamic relationship that exists between culture and the built environment. Such theories hold that because different cultures are characterized by distinctive types of economic, social, and ideological relationships, they require different forms of spatial order to sustain them. Through the adoption of such a perspective, this paper examines the effects of Euro-Canadian prefabricated housing on modern Inuit groups in the central and eastern Canadian Arctic. Preliminary results suggest that the "alien" spatial environments of the southern-style prefabricated house may have contributed to increasing gender asymmetry, a transformation of social relations through the delayed resolution of interpersonal conflicts, confusion over how, when and where to conduct various household activities, and a loss of cultural identity among contemporary Inuit.

Key words: human spatial behaviour, government housing, Inuit, gender, acculturation, northern communities