Politics, Bureaucracy, and Arctic Archaeology in Canada, 1910-39

  • Barnett Richling
Keywords: Anthropology, Archaeologists, Archaeology, Biographies, Government, History, Jenness, Diamond, 1886-1969, National Museum of Man (Canada), Research, Social policy, Canadian Arctic

Abstract

Until the post-World War II period most of Canada's professional archaeologists and ethnologists were attached to the Anthropological Division of the National Museum in Ottawa, originally founded in 1910 as a branch of the Geological Survey. As they were federal employees, their scientific work was largely dependent on, and ultimately limited by, what politicians and senior bureaucrats deemed to be in the public interest. This paper considers some implications of this arrangement for one aspect of Anthropological Division activity before World War II - its involvement in arctic archaeology. While government personnel made a number of substantive contributions to what was then a developing field of research and scholarship, archival sources suggest that prevailing political and institutional conditions weighed against the division's continuing participation in northern fieldwork during these years. Instead, its role was effectively limited to encouraging and, on occasion, coordinating the research of American, British, and European archaeologists working on problems pertaining to the prehistory of the Canadian Arctic.

Key words: arctic archaeology, history of Canadian archaeology; National Museum of Canada

Published
1995-01-01