Qualitative Researchers at risk to emotional harm

Reflection Iqaluit BlizzardThis research resonated with my own experience providing me with a body of literature, a lexicon and and lens through which something that left me speechless might someday be spoken. 


“The first thing to note is that the concept of ‘duty of care’ is spelled out from the outset. This includes a reference to a moral obligation on behalf of those working in the University: The University must exercise a “duty of care” to employees and to those under supervision and this duty is recognised in both criminal and civil law. There is also a moral duty that the teacher has towards the pupil. (University ‘A’ Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Unit 2004: 4) It is then explained that it is through a system of ‘line management’ that the University’s statutory requirements are expected to be met. In University ‘A’ formal responsibilities for issues of fieldworker safety are delegated to Heads of Departments. It is therefore for the Head of Department to ensure that the risk assessment for the fieldwork is made and to ensure that safe systems of work have been established for all staff and students. Frequently the Head of Department will delegate this duty to a particular member of staff as Departmental Safety Officer, or to different research managers – PhD supervisors and Principal Investigators (Bloor, Fincham and Sampson 2007-06).”

A number of authors have stated that researchers can be negatively affected emotionally and physically by research on sensitive issues (Alexander et al. 1989; Burr 1995; Cowles 1988; Dunn 1991; Gregory, Russell and Phillips 1997; Lee 1995; McCosker, Barnard and Gerber 2001). Some of the possible negative outcomes include gastrointestinal problems (Dunn 1991), insomnia and nightmares (Cowles 1988; Dunn 1991; Etherington 1996), headaches (Dunn 1991), exhaustion and depression (Ridge, Hee and Aroni 1999) and threats to physical safety (Langford 2000; Lee 1995). (Dickson-Swift et al. 2006: 857) (Bloor, Fincham and Sampson 2007-06).”

“There are two manifestations of resistance to researchers documented in the literature. One relates to unwillingness on the part of potential research participants to cooperate, and to be obstructive, and the other relates to unco-operativeness on the part of those connected with research participants – for example ‘gate keepers’. For anthropologists the separation of these two sites of resistance is often complicated, as in a study of a particular community there might be no distinction between a participant and a gate keeper (Bloor, Fincham and Sampson 2007-06:32).”

The process of ‘pain by proxy’ described by Moran-Ellis (Moran-Ellis 1997: 181) appears to have resonance for many researchers. The emotional strain of having to deal with distressing situations or narratives can be acute. It should be noted that there is also a literature concerned with the emotional impact of disturbing data on those not directly involved with the gathering of the data. Transcribers and PIs have been singled out as particularly vulnerable to this effect (McCosker et al. 2001). Hochschild’s description of ‘deep acting’ (Hochschild 1983: 42-3), may mask levels of upset or even trauma suffered by researchers who feel their professional integrity would be brought into question if such upset were acknowledged. However, increasingly there is recognition that the issue of emotional well-being is of great importance to researchers, research institutions and the integrity of qualitative research itself (Bloor, Fincham and Sampson 2007-06:34).

“With regard to PhD students, several contributions highlighted the ambiguous position of research students when it comes to the requirements of PhD research and risk to well-being. It is often the case that a precondition of PhD funding in the social sciences is that it is original research. In some instances this means that the specific research arena has not been previously entered. Therefore the potential risks in such research arenas are, to certain extent, untested. In these circumstances it is inevitable that PhD students become their own risk assessors and the least experienced in research can find themselves in the most exposed positions when it comes to potential harm (Bloor, Fincham and Sampson 2007-06:34).”

“There was discussion of what one contributor called ‘re-entry shock’. This was described in relation to both returning to a research site, but also adjusting back to a ‘normal’ life after extended periods of field research. One researcher reported the isolation they felt when trying to readjust to their life after particularly intense fieldwork. The final area of discussion in the emotional impact involved the possible damage done by the misrepresentation of results, particularly in popular media. Once again the need for specialist training and awareness programmes to be provided through institutions was highlighted (Bloor, Fincham and Sampson 2007-06:45).”

Sampson, Helen; Bloor, Michael; Fincham, Ben. “A Price Worth Paying? Considering the `Cost’ of Reflexive Research Methods and the Influence of Feminist Ways of `Doing.’ Sociology, 42:5:919-933 (2008) DOI: 10.1177/0038038508094570.

Abstract: “Drawing on analysis of relevant literature, focus groups, and web-based discussion board postings, assembled as part of an inquiry into risks to the well-being of qualitative researchers, it is argued that emotional harm is more prevalent than physical harm and may be particularly associated with reflexivity and the important influence of feminist research methods. The particular concern of feminist researchers with reflexivity, with research relationships and with the interests of research participants may make them especially vulnerable to emotional harm.”

Bloor, Michael; Fincham, Ben; Sampson, Helen. 2007-06. Qualiti (NCRM) Commissioned Inquiry into the Risk to Well-Being of Researchers in Qualitative Research.

Risk to emotional well-being of researchers involved in qualitative research, Role conflict, Anxiety, Isolation, Resistance, Unanticipated long term impact of research, Staying emotionally/psychologically safe




Commissioned Inquiry. 2006-03. “Risk to well-being of researchers in qualitative research

Original Call for Evidence: Submissions/evidence are invited as part of an inquiry into risks to the well-being of researchers in qualitative research. Those persons submitting evidence may wish to draw our attention to lessons to be learned from experience. We are interested in submissions based on the experiences of researchers, research supervisors, members of ethics committees and anyone else involved in any aspect of the conduct and management of qualitative research. Submissions may embrace practical, regulatory and/or ethical issues and risks may include threats to mental/emotional health as well as exposure to physical hazards. The Inquiry is being conducted as part of the activities being undertaken by ‘Qualiti’, the Cardiff Node of the UK Economic and Social Research Council’s National Research Methods Centre. The aim of the inquiry is to produce guidelines for good practice of value to researchers, supervisors and other parties.

Broad Overview: There are risks to researchers in undertaking fieldwork. Some of these are obvious, some less so. These risks may impact on the physical, emotional or social well-being of researchers. Whilst there has been a concentration of effort in ensuring research ‘subjects’ are protected from the potentially harmful consequences of research (through ‘informed consent’ for example), there has been much less thought about protection of researchers from potential harm. It is likely too that researchers undertaking qualitative fieldwork are exposed to particular forms of risks, which arise from the characteristic emphasis of qualitative approaches on conducting research in naturalistic settings.

Qualitative researchers may experience a range of risks. Some risks relate to the physical well-being of researchers and correspond to conventional health and safety considerations in employment of all kinds. It is not difficult to think of situations in which researchers may be at risk of violence or other physical danger. Equally, researchers may become emotionally threatened, where, for example, the data being collected are distressing or the settings emotionally taxing. These different types of risk reflect the objectives of the research, the settings in which it is conducted and the characteristics of the participants in the research, both ‘subjects’ and researchers.

Researcher risks are a matter of urgent interest to a range of parties, not just researchers, but also research supervisors, research funders, insurers, ethicists, occupational health and safety personnel and others. Evidence and opinions are invited from all interested parties.

There have been past occasions where qualitative researchers have entered the field without fully understanding the implications of the research setting on their well-being. This is a situation paralleling a failure of ‘informed consent’, researchers should be able to make judgements as to the suitability of a research context with regard to ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ risk of harm to them. Clearly, it is desirable to develop ‘good practice’ guides and recommendations to reduce risks to qualitative researchers. However, practice guides should be such that they do not threaten the integrity of the research process itself. This is especially pertinent given that much qualitative research is carried out in naturalistic settings and, more specifically, is frequently dependent upon the quality of the relationships between ‘subjects’ and researchers.

It is recognised that researcher risk may vary by gender as well as by setting. Submissions are welcomed which document and explore this gender dimension.

This inquiry aims to collate and analyse accounts of qualitative research where issues of risk may have been present to locate these accounts in the existing research methods literature and to draw out practical recommendations.

Moderated Forum: Evidence for the inquiry will be gathered via a moderated web-based forum. On this forum contributors will be asked to submit evidence under one of four topic themes. This evidence will then be placed on the website in an appropriate topic stream. It is anticipated that aside from gathering evidence this will also generate online discussion around issues arising from evidence.

Shape-Shifting and Other Points of Convergence: Inuit Art and Digital Technologies

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 1999. “Shape-Shifting and Other Points of Convergence: Inuit Art and Digital Technologies.” Art Libraries Journal. 24/3:38-41. [1]

Western thinking which is predominantly linear and analytical, does not adequately give access to the complexities of Inuit visual culture. However, hypertext offers new possibilities for information management, and the aboriginal communities are using it creatively to share information, for example in the Internet record of the development of Canada’s newest territory, Nunavut. This article examines how and why interactive multimedia were the means chosen to develop a master’s thesis on the Inuit artist Jessie Oonark.

While Inuit culture encircle the circumpolar section of four nations: Canada, Denmark, Russia and the United States, it is in Canada that Inuit art production has grown exponentially over the past fifty years into a multi-million dollar cultural industry. The Inuit Art Bibliography, compiled and published in 1996 by the Inuit Art Section of the Department of Northern Affairs, includes over two thousand entries. This is surprisingly large in proportion to the size of the population: there are 40, 900 Inuit living in Canada’s north. Nunavut, encompassing 360, 000 square kilometres, is the largest and newest of the three Canadian Arctic territories.

From dog sleds to snow machines to digital connections, the Inuit continue to adapt technologies for their needs. Today more Nunavummiut per capita use computers and the Internet than in any other region of Canada. On my computer in southern Canada, I can follow the official April 1st opening ceremonies in the new capital of Iqaluit, Nunavut through the satellite communication link. I could read about it in the Nunatsiak News web page or I could participate in person at the Museum of Civilization, Hull, Quebec and be part of a live broadcast also available on the Internet.

Jessie Oonark

Jessie Oonark (1906-1985) Una or Unaaq lived the traditional hunter-nomadic life of the Inuit for almost fifty years. But in the 1950s her Keewatin home, in the region west of Hudson’s Bay, was devastated by famine after the disappearance of the herds of caribou which had previously supplied basic needs. Survivors of this disaster like Jessie Oonark, a widow with children, settled in emerging small permanent hamlets like Baker Lake Qamanittuaq, now in Nunavut. Here small-scale carving and printmaking co-operatives were developed to supplement income. In Baker Lake, in a matchbox house, Jessie Oonark produced wall hangings, drawings and prints that single her out as one of Canada’s greatest artists. Her internationally-renowned wall hangings echo the iconography and techniques of the appliqué and inlays of traditional skin clothing. In 1975 she was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts, and the year before she died she received Canada’s highest award, the Order of Canada.

Today most Baker Lake community graphic artists continue to use rich palettes of coloured melton, duffle, coloured pencils, printers ink and paint. Jessie Oonark’s children continue her artistic legacy: her son William Noah has experimented with computer graphics to represent the vivid, spectacular colours of the sky over the mountain tundra.

Inuit legend

Jessie Oonark’s work presents us with a different vision of the world, a new way of seeing. Her visual imagery reflected her traditional spirituality, her thought processes, and the Inuktitut language. When she spoke she talked in circles, turning the subject to many sides as she communicated all the necessary information to her peers in imagery reminiscent of the fluid, space-changing and shape-shifting nature of oral legend. In an Inuit story (unikkaaqtuaq) ambiguous key figures shift to human and animal forms within one story. A story can begin at the end, or particular episodes of a legend can be struck in the middle of a large story or cycle of legends. Anthropologist Charles Moore suggests that essentially the same myths and legends are told right across the North but vary considerably from region to region (Flynn-Burhoe 1999:38) both in detail and in form. These variations may have occurred as stories were shared at great meeting places such as Akilineq in the Keewatin.

The Sedna (nuliayuk, taleleeyo) legend, the theme of countless works of art, illustrates this. In this story, which has hundreds of regional variations, a young woman who refuses to marry is punished. Her punishment transforms her into a being so feared and respected by the land dwellers who once oppressed her that their lives centre around appeasing her. Most often her brutalized fingers become whales, walrus and seals which she then controls. Referring to her 1974 drawing and print Big Woman, Jessie Oonark told a seemingly unrelated story of a woman who turned into stone.

‘This woman who is turning into a stone, in Chantrey Inlet. The Stone itself is really colourful because this woman has a fancy parka . . .’ She turned into stone . . . ‘because she never wanted to get married to anybody, not anyone at all. The woman is supposed to be in a kneeling position, but I just drew it in a standing position anyway.’

A popular columnist with the Nunatsiaq New, Rachel Attituq Qitsualik, tells a version of this shape-shifting Sedna story in which the torngat (powerful spirit), who used trickery to bring the woman to his distant island, is transformed into stone. Jessie Oonark’s cousin, Luke Anguhadluq, a highly-respected camp leader and keeper of the Utkuhihalingmiut legends, provides a detailed account of Nuliajuk (the name given to Sedna by the Utkuhihalingmiut, Oonark’s cultural group) turning into stone. The less rigid Inuit world view allows for ambiguity even in terms of geographical locations. The woman who turns into stone is also part of the living legend of Marble Island, an island located near Chesterfield Inlet.

The magical mutations of forms in Jessie Oonark’s work provide arguments for seeking a different relationship between ways of seeing, ways of thinking and language. Western thinking, which is predominantly linear and analytical, is inadequate for a full appreciation of Jessie Oonark’s many layers of meaning and visual puns. Her work can be looked at syncretistically, a term used by art historians and anthropologists such as Swinton, Carpentar, Blodgett and Jackson to refer to an uncritical blending of diverse, even conflicting, ideas, beliefs or principles. In Inuit art it refers to a way of seeing in which total events, thoughts and structures are understood without it being necessary first to analyse all their component parts and details. Artistic forms mutate, reflecting the Inuit world view with its highly interdependent relationship between humans and their environment. Humans become spirits, shamans, animals, or constellations, which in turn become human. Inuit are more tolerant of the uncertain boundaries between worlds and this gives meaning to the shape-shifting quality of oral tradition.

It is interesting that Sherry Turkle’s book Life on the screen: identity in the age of the Internet (New York: Touchstone 1997) uses the same terms to communicate the networld of human exchanges. The shifting sense of self in digital identities, the distinction between real life and virtual, tolerance of boundary uncertainties and shape-shifting are also terms to describe the first-generation inhabitants of digital existence.

While these connections are awkward in print format, they flow easily in digital format through images, maps, and layers of text. Interactive multimedia provides a richer means of access to a mode of thinking that is non-linear, which parallels Oonark’s work. My first graduate student project on Oonark had been in the form of a slide show with voice-over and reflected the oral, nonlinear tradition of her people the Utkuhihalingmiut. While this format allowed me to avoid cumbersome verbal descriptions of the artist’s dynamic transformation of forms, it is fundamentally linear. I found that the many layers of meaning, visual puns and high tolerance of ambiguity could be more easily evoked through the interactive multimedia digital applications being used in teaching, learning and research.

The tools

To carry out the work I chose Asymetrix Toolbook, an authoring software package which enabled me to manipulate images, text, audio and video freely. I was able to gather and digitize visual, audio and textual data from various sources including sound clips of throat singing and Jessie Oonark speaking. To manage the large quantity of data and images, I also used other software such as Adobe Photoshop, FoxPro (RQBE) and EndNote. While issues such as copyright, digitization, memory, resolution and projection systems often seemed to be insurmountable obstacles, it did prove possible to find solutions. Carleton University’s Teaching and Learning Resource Centre supported my project generously, upgrading its equipment to meet the technological needs. By January 1995 I was faced with serious problems of lack of hard disk space and the University purchased an 800 megabyte external drive so I could continue working. At times other University departments such as Engineering and Geography had to be asked for technical assistance. Because of the prohibitive cost of scanners some of the slides were sent to Kodak Photo CD to be digitized on CD-ROM.

One of the examiners suggested that a printed version be produced for them. There are 283 pages containing over 130 images including photographs, maps, models and works of art; approximately 2,000 hyperlinks, including hotwords and buttons; sound and video clips, animation and over 150 text fields of varying lengths. Fortunately, my explanation of the impossibility of such a print-out was accepted.

In March 1995 “Woman in the Centre: a Study of the Symbols of Womanhood in the Work of Jessie Oonark using Interactive Multimedia as a Method of Exploration” was submitted (Flynn-Burhoe 1999:39) on the external drive and in the form of taped back-up as part of my Master’s Degree in Canadian Studies at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. After three readers had seen it in this form it was burned into a CD-ROM. The Teaching and Learning Resource Centre of Carleton University, Ottawa, has an updated version of the disk, as I have continued to perfect the application even after graduation in June 1995. I am working towards an improved version of the CD-ROM which I am hoping to publish. I have presented my MA research often to various groups. Ideas generated from the demonstrations and discussions have encouraged others to consider this new set of intellectual tools, with new ways of framing research that suggest fresh ways of looking and thinking.

The methodology

In my project I attempted to blend form and content whenever possible, with a concept map providing possible navigation routes and as a metaphor for the way data is connected. Jessie Oonark’s images of dynamic transformations are juxtaposed with deliberately transparent layers of text, which are revealed only when certain hotwords or buttons are clicked. The words of art historians, curators, anthropologists and Jessie Oonark are presented in a non-hierarchical, egalitarian way. Sound bytes of the artist’s own voice, as well as numerous quotations from her 1983 interview with Professor Mame Jackson, are incorporated (Flynn-Burhoe 1999:40).

Smaller images called thumbnails, wallet images and snap shots were sufficient. The CD-ROM was intended to enhance understanding of Jessie Oonark’s work in order to heighten enjoyment of the works of art themselves, not to replace the museum visit.

My goal was to create an interface that combined form with content, using Jessie Oonark’s own drawings to indicate ways of making connections visually. Since traditional systems did not represent how she would have presented information, transparent fields of white text on a dark textured background were used to represent the way she would have spoken — these look like words floating on a water-like surface.

For example on the homepage (Fig. 1) the reader can click on numerous hotwords, buttons, icons and images and hear Jessie Oonark’s voice, reveal pop-up indexes, or move to another page. A variety of icons were used: the inukshuk (stone cairn-like marker) to bring the reader back to the main menu; the drum-dancer (Flynn-Burhoe 1999:40) for audio; the caribou facing right and left as forward and background buttons.

I developed a glossary, bibliography, table of contents, scrolling title pop-up index, subject pop-up index, Who, What, Where, When, Why questions and thumbnail images on electronic contact sheets. All these are effectively pointers, replacing the usual references to books and articles in a textual thesis with a means of linking to large quantities of full content text.

The problems

Faster and more sophisticated computers, with high resolution image, audio and video capabilities, have created a paradigm shift in communication and information industries, in the ‘silicon basements’ of academia and in cultural industries. However, most multimedia applications still combine video and audio clips, images and texts in ways that are familiar. Exploring their capacity to form new, unexpected pathways through information, promoting knowledge instead of decimating huge quantities of information, is the challenge currently facing interactive multimedia authors.

I also mentioned earlier the problem of copyright. Working on this project has made me approach knowledge management in terms of possible hypertext connections. My arguments are increasingly visual and therefore dependent on access to digitized images, but free access to copyright-cleared downloadable versions of these, as in a library model, is increasingly being replaced by the much less-democratic pay-per-use model. Long-term public interests are being sacrificed to short-term private goals. Libraries and museums have public fiscal accountability; they also need safeguards so that they can achieve goals that straddle changing political and economic moods.

I have considered an Internet format for the Oonark application. I am not convinced, however, that the frustration of slow downloading of complicated, layered pages and images is near to being alleviated on the majority of computers. Slow output devices and on-line servers can slow down even the most efficiently-designed web pages.


New digital technologies can provide a two-way path to other cultures that creates the potential for dialogue on issues of identity. But they can also submerge diversity by encouraging the production of homogenous and superficial entertainment. When used to its fullest potential the technology can contribute to new ways of knowing. Inuit stories have been recorded in written form because ‘paper stays put.’ But linear formats freeze fluid stories; non-linear digital technologies provide a less rigid medium for interpreting Inuit legends and imagery.

Inuk journalist Rachel Attituq Qitsualik compared the fluid nature of the unikkaaqtuaq (Inuit story) to the surface of water in constant transformation and flux, a reflection of its human beauty. ‘Capture it, and it becomes as stone: it endures, yet stripped of value’ (Flynn-Burhoe 1999:41).

to be continued . . .

Webliography and Bibliography

Blodgett, Jean. 1979. The Coming and Going of the Shaman: Eskimo Shamanism and Art. Winnipeg Art Gallery, 1979. 1979, 1st Edition. (ISBN: 0889150680) Soft cover. First edition. 246 pp. hundreds of plates (some color), biblio, oversize (4to) softcover.

Blodgett, Jean and Bouchard, Marie. 1986. Jessie Oonark: a Retrospective. Winnipeg: Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Cohen, Kathleen. 1997. “The ‘Nina,’ the ‘Pinta,’ and the Internet – ships in Christopher Columbus’ expedition – Digital Culture and the Practices of Art and Art History.” Art Bulletin. 79:2: 187-191.

Driscoll, Bernadette. 1982. Inuit Myths, Legends, and Songs.” Winnipeg: Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Elkins, James. 1997. “What are we seeing, exactly? – Digital Culture and the Practices of Art and Art History.” Art Bulletin. 79:2:191-198. June.

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 1998. ‘CD-ROM: The Process Behind the Creation of “Woman in the Centre.” Womenspace. 3:4. Summer. http://www.womenspace.ca (deadlink 2008 )

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 1999. “Jessie Oonark: Woman in the Centre.” Inuit Art Quarterly. 14:2. Summer.

Jackson, Marion E. 1985. “Baker Lake Drawings: a Study in the Evolution of Artistic Consciousness.” PhD thesis. University of Michigan.

Lavin, Marilyn Aronberg. 1997. “Making Computers Work for the History of Art: Digital Culture and the Practices of Art and Art History.” Art Bulletin. 79:2:198-201.

Noblitt, James S. 1997. “Scholarship, Publishing and Computing: Interactions in the Educational Marketplace.” IAT Briefings. 5: 1-2. (deadlink: http://www.iat.unc.edu/publications/noblitt/noblitt2.htm)

Qitsualik, Rachel Attituq. Nunatsiaq News.

Turkle, Sherry. 1997. Life on the screen: identity in the age of the Internet. New York: Touchstone.

Veltman, Kim. 1997. “New Roles for Libraries in the Digital Age.” http://www.sumscorp.com


[1]. The original article was published in 1999. Unintentionally it became part of the deep internet or deep web. With the increased use of Web 2.0 open source technologies, I have chosen to make it more accessible using the Creative Commons 3.0 BY-NC-SA License. I have added links to urls that were accessible in May 2008. The original article is also available here and here.

[2] At the time of writing the original article in 1999 I was an active participant in artengine.

Kim Veltman, PhD http://www.sumscorp.com

Zygmunt Bauman: Theorist of Postmodernity’s Ethical Turn

For Zygmunt Bauman, “sociologizing makes sense only in as far as it helps humanity” and “sociology is first and foremost a moral enterprise,”

“To think sociologically can render us more sensitive and tolerant of diversity. Thus to think sociologically means to understand a little more fully the people around us in terms of their hopes and desires and their worries and concerns (Bauman & May, 2001).”

It would be hoped that his writings and work written about him would be made available through the Creative Commons License 3.5, preferred by academics in 2008. Unfortunately so much of what is really useful to robust conversations in civil society, foundational texts and articles such as Bauman’s are restricted to those with access codes to the deep internet, the dark place of open source and Web 2.0+. Many of the services of the Deep Internet operate within the private sector model as user-pay. Others are restricted to those who are members of exclusive academic associations, the insular knowledge elite, who also operate with obligatory membership fees.

to be continued . . . add notes from EndNote

The following is an excerpt from the exclusive Deep Internet, the less accessible internet restricted to members through a user-pay service:

“Zygmunt Bauman is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the Universities of Leeds and Warsaw and has written some of the more influential modern books on sociology.

Baumans thinking is mainly influenced by what he refers to as the big triad of influences. This triad includes: Antonio Gramsci, Georg Simmel and Bauman’s wife, Janina. Bauman explains the triad as follows: “Gramsci told me what, Simmel how, and Janina what for” (Beilharz, 2001).

Bauman perceives Gramsci’s work as an antidote to the determinism of so much Marxisant thought. Simmel provides Bauman with the methods, whilst Janina has taught him that, sociologizing makes sense only in as far as it helps humanity.

This last quotation gives us a strong clue as to Bauman’s general approach to sociology.

Bauman was born in Poznan, Poland in 1925.

He completed his graduate studies – with an MA in social sciences – and in 1954 became a lecturer in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Warsaw. He was influenced by the work of his teachers Stanislaw Ossowski and Julian Hochfeld.

In 1971 Bauman came to Britain where he took up a position as a lecturer eventually becoming Professor of Sociology at the University of Leeds in Yorkshire. Today he is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the Universities of Leeds and Warsaw. ”

(Source: http://www.sociologyonline.co.uk) now? www.sociologyonline.com

Anthony Giddens described Zygmunt Bauman as: ‘the theorist of postmodernity�he has developed a position with which everyone has to reckon'” (www.sociologyonline.com).”

“While heading the Department of Sociology at Leeds, Bauman brought great qualities of intellectual leadership. “From the start he saw his task as one of inspiring students, and among his academic colleagues promoting a collegial atmosphere in which new academic projects were welcomed and free and open discussion encouraged in an atmosphere of mutual tolerance and understanding” (www.leeds.ac.uk). Since his retirement, Bauman and his reputation has continued to benefit sociology at Leeds.”

Webliography and Bibliography

Adorno, Theodor. Inspired Bauman.http://www.sociologyonline.co.uk

Bauman, Zygmunt. 1987. Legislators and Interpreters. Polity

Bauman, Zygmunt(1988) Freedom Open University Press

Bauman, Zygmunt (1993) Postmodern Ethics Blackwell

Bauman, Zygmunt (1995) Life in Fragments: Essays in Postmodern Morality Blackwell

Bauman, Zygmunt (1997) Postmodernity and Its Discontents Polity

Bauman, Zygmunt (1998)a Globalization Polity

Bauman, Zygmunt (1998)b Work, consumerism and the new poor Open University Press

Bauman, Zygmunt (1999) In Search of Politics Polity

Bauman, Zygmunt (2001)a Liquid Modernity Polity

Bauman, Zygmunt (2001)b The Individualized Society Polity

Bauman, Zygmunt; & Tester, K (2001) Conversations with Zygmunt Bauman Polity

Bauman, Zygmunt & May, T (2001) Thinking Sociologically Blackwell

Beck, Ulrich. 2002. “The Cosmopolitan Society and its Enemies.” Theory, Culture and Society. 19:1-2

Beilharz, P (ed) (2001) The Bauman Reader Blackwell

Berger, P ([1964]1974) Invitation to Sociology Viking

Carveth, Donald L. 1984. “Psychoanalysis and Social Theory: The Hobbesian Problem Revisted.” Psychoanalysis & Contemporary Thought. 7:1: 43-98.http://www.yorku.ca/dcarveth/social.htm

Castoriadis, Cornelius. Inspired Bauman

Gordon, Avery. 1997. Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination. Minneapolis. University of Minnesota Press

Gramsci, Antonio. Inspired Bauman

Krzemien. Microsociology: Symbolic-Interaction

Lemert, C (1995) Sociology: After the Crisis Westview

Levinas, Emmanuel. Inspired Bauman

Mills, C. Wright. 1959. “The Bureaucratic Ethos.” The Sociological Imagination. New York. Oxford University Press.

Mills, C. Wright. 1959. The Sociological Imagination. New York. Oxford University Press.

Simmel, Georg. Inspired Bauman

Smith, D (1999) Zygmunt Bauman: Prophet of Postmodernity Polity

Tester, K (1997) Moral Culture Sage

Weber, Max. Inspired Bauman

Wolff, Janet. 1999. “Cultural Studies and the Sociology of Culture” href=”http://www.rochester.edu/in_visible_culture/issue1/wolff/wolff.html” target=”_blank”>Cultural Studies and the Sociology of Culture.”

Bauman & May, 2001

The Sociological Imagination

In his influential book, The Sociological Imagination C. Wright Mills (1959) warned that the tendency to misrepresent social disorders as merely individual psychological disorders led to a depolitization of intellectual discourse and the undermining of social criticism. He challenged notions of the false dichotomy between private and public and self and society. He warned against an overdependence on superficial psychological explanations which ignore complex social accounts. These can only be dealt with through an in-depth sociology based on the nurturing of a sociological imagination that balances the tendency to depend too much on a psychological imagination. By treating public social problems as individual and personal psychosis, the sociopolitical status quo is maintained (Flynn-Burhoe 1999).

“The sociological imagination enables its possessor to understand the larger historical scene in terms of its meaning for the inner life and the external career of a variety of individuals (Mills 1959:8).”

“No social study that does not come back to the problems of biography . . . has completed its intellectual journey (Mills 1959:8).”

“C. Wright Mills (1959 [1961:8]) once characterized the sociological imagination as entailing the transformation of private troubles into public issues. In this formulation, Mills intended to assert the superiority of the sociological over the psychological imagination, the latter being represented as serving the interests of the sociopolitical status quo by depoliticizing intellectual discourse and undermining social criticism by misrepresenting societal deficiencies as individual ones. But despite the validity of this insight into a widespread ideological abuse of psychology, it ultimately rests upon a false dichotomy and an insufficiently dialectical view of the relationship between the private and the public, the self and society. For even when we forego the sociologistic reduction of the psychological to the political, or the subjective to the objective, in favor of a penetrating self-reflexive inquiry into the depths of subjectivity, we inevitably discover that the most intimate truths have an almost universal reference. It is only superficial psychologizing that blinds us to our common plight, just as it is only superficial sociologizing that is oblivious to the inner depths of the man behind the social mask. If we require a social psychology, we are even more in need of a depth sociology (Carveth 1984 [1999]) . “

In the chapter on ‘The Bureaucratic Ethos’ (Mills, Wright 1959:100-) Mills portrays a scathing image of the social sciences within academia in the United State in the late 1950s. He was concerned about a ‘decisive shift’ in the role of the social sciences that was unfolding between 1935 – 1959 in which the older liberal practice of examining ‘social problems’ was overshadowed by a joining of the more bureaucratic, illiberable, managerial practicality with an abstracted empiricism. Mills described this mutant as bureaucratic social science. He was concerned that this type of costly, efficient, highly standardized and rationalized methodologies resembled those of accounting and advertising firms of corporations. As such, even in university settings, the ‘New Social Science’ applied social sciences, served bureaucratic clients like the army, the state and corporations. By addressing the particular needs of specific clients rather than the public, Wills contended that the objectivity of the social science practice was jeopardized. Chronologically Mills traced the embodiment of bureaucratic social science through the marketting agencies of the 1920s, corporations and polling in the 1930s, academic life in the 1940s and the American federal government in WWII and through other institutions throughout the 1950s. Wills sketches an image of academia in the 1950s in which the high cost of abstracted empirical work which is dependent on costly research units, forces these units to fall under corporate control. The university’s division of labour became transformed from the model of professional peers with apprentices, to research bureacracies composed of intellectual techicians, research promoters and intellectual administrators skillful in setting up and funding research projects (Mills 1959:104).

1995:83) A strong post war economy coupled wiMills revealed how the dogmatic, uni-perspectival social science operated under questionable assumptions. The ambiguous term “human engineering” as employed in the 1950s became tied to concepts of ‘mastery of nature’ and ‘mastery of society’. The model they emulated was that of the hard sciences, particularly physicists, who had proven their ability to control the atom by using Scientific Method. As Mills pointed out, this spirit of empty optimism reflected an ignorance of the nature of, and relationships between, power, knowledge, moral action and history. It became problematic when technocratic slogans replaced reasoned moral choice. (Mills 1959:117)The popular slogan, “The purpose of social science is the prediction and control of human behaviour”, came to mean that once social scientists learned how to accurately predict and control human behaviour, mankind would somehow be ensured of peace and prosperity. (Mills 1959:113) This resulted in an ‘epistemic optimism within sociology in the 1950s. (Wagner 1995:1) which was shared by the general public. The Gulbenkian report refers to this as a period when both ordinary people and scholars were state centric. Both ordinary people and the scholars thought and acted at state level. (Gulbenkian 1995:83) A strong post war economy coupled with a growth spurt in population and production in North America led to the rapid expansion of the university system and an increase in the number of social scientists. (Gulbenkian 1995:33-34)

These social scientists were involved in projects dependent on foundation funds that tend towards the large, politically safe, and noncontroversial research carried out by an army of research technicians of abstracted empiricism (Mills 1959:104).

Max Weber’s statement about endemic bureaucracy creating an “iron cage of the future” proved to be prophetic. Current debates in social sciences reflect the contradiction inherent in the late 20th century in which increasing bureaucratic process in all forms of governance collides with theoretical enquiries demanding constant reappraisals of these same processes. In the university setting, sociology as a discipline is situated at the centre of these debates. In practice sociologists as civil servants can become trapped into working on narrow, exclusive and specialized enquiries that allow them to operate only with hard facts such as statistics that resemble scientific methods. At worst this transforms them into bureaucrats operating in a safe and acceptable environment while investigating short-term answers to questions they did not formulate, questions that were not informed by a contemporary theoretical framework. It indeed becomes Weber’s cage. This is the view of sociology of the late 1950s presented by <a href=”abstracts.htm#mills”>C. Wright Mills.


C. Wright Mills’ intellectual geneaology might include:

One of the more influential social scientists of the late 20th century Zygmunt Bauman, became a lecturer in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Warsaw from 1954 until(?) he came to Britain in 1971 where he took up a position as a lecturer eventually becoming Professor of Sociology at the University of Leeds in Yorkshire. He was (2001-?) Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the Universities of Leeds and Warsaw. In 2001 he reflected (Bauman & Tester 2001: 27) upon a visit to his University department by the [now] famous US sociologist C. Wright Mills in the 1950s. As far as Bauman was concerned Mills’s sociology was ‘..the story of our own concerns and duties. There was a lot I learned from Mills’s books and what I learned was not primarily about America.’ (Bauman & Tester 2001: 27).’ Bauman is alluding here to that sociological classic of Mills: The Sociological Imagination.

Intellectual influences on Bauman might include Karl Marx, Max Weber, Theodor Adorno, Cornelius Castoriadis and Emmanuel Levinas.

Bauman’s ‘big triad’ of influences includes: Antonio Gramsci, Georg Simmel and Bauman’s wife, Janina (Beilharz 2001: 335). In a conversation with Peter Beilharz, Bauman expands as follows: ‘Gramsci told me what, Simmel how, and Janina what for..’ (ibid). Bauman perceived Gramsci’s work as an antidote to the determinism (Stalinism?) of so much Marxisant thought. Simmel provides Bauman with the method(s) (the reference to the ‘big triad’ by Bauman above is a deliberate allusion to one of Simmel’s central concepts!), whilst Janina taught him that, ‘..sociologizing makes sense only in as far as it helps humanity…’ (Beilharz 2001: 335).

Janet Wolff (1999) acknowledged that since she came to Rochester from Britain in 1989 she felt it her mission to to encourage a “sociological imagination” among students,

“. . . I suppose I have felt since coming to Rochester that my “mission” was to encourage a “sociological imagination”2 among students in the graduate program in Rochester, a program, after all, initially founded by the collaboration of colleagues in art history, film studies, and comparative literature, only more recently including the participation of colleagues from anthropology and history. (There is no longer a department of sociology at the University.) I have wanted to direct them to the texts and methods of sociology and social history, and to urge them to supplement their interpretative and critical readings of visual texts with attention to the institutional and social processes of cultural production and consumption. It was a very pleasant moment for me recently when a graduate student, who came to discuss his search for a useful concept of “style,” told me that he had been reading Max Weber, and said (without any prompting) before he left my office “I suppose I should look at Simmel’s work.” Earlier, I was delighted when a graduate student (now a faculty member at the University of Virginia) completely switched his dissertation topic and ended up writing a social and institutional (and, of course, critical) history of art education in the United States–a dissertation, by the way, that will be published next year by the University of California Press.3 Actually this last case was particularly interesting because a year earlier (my first year in Rochester) this student had taken a class with me on the sociology of culture in which I had devoted quite a bit of time to the work of American sociologists. Despite my strong reservations about this work, I wanted students to recognize the importance of paying attention to institutional processes and structures in the study of culture. Some members of the class (including him) complained that this work was boring (which, actually, much of it is). Moreover, given my own criticisms of the work, which I explained, they wondered why we were spending time on it. I did not have a very good answer, except to say that nobody else was doing this kind of work well, and that I had hoped that we could read it critically in order to consider how we might indeed investigate what sociologists call “the production of culture.” As it turned out, that is indeed what that graduate student did, incorporating what he found most useful in that tradition into a fine study whose intellectual influences were at the same time more wide-ranging and sophisticated.”

She also (1999) called for a stronger connection between sociology and cultural studies,

“In this essay, I want to suggest that cultural studies can benefit from a stronger connection with sociology. A good deal of what I have to say consists of a critical review of recent developments in sociology, a discipline which for the most part has still not come to terms with the fact that, as Avery Gordon has put it, “the real itself and its ethnographic or sociological representations are . . . fictions, albeit powerful ones that we do not experience as fictions but as true.” (Gordon 1997:11) I review this work not so that I can simply dismiss it, but because, first, it retains a very high profile in the study of culture within the discipline of sociology and, second, because, as I shall show, it makes claims either to supersede or to displace cultural studies.”

“My critique of trends in sociology is entirely motivated by my hope for a productive encounter between cultural studies and sociology. The benefit to both fields will be the mutual recognition that–again to quote Avery Gordon “the increasingly sophisticated understandings of representation and of how the social world is textually or discursively constructed still require an engagement with the social structuring practices that have long been the province of sociological inquiry.”(Gordon 1997:11) What sociologists can contribute to the project of cultural analysis is a focus on institutions and social relations, as well as on the broader perspective of structured axes of social differentiation and their historical transformations–axes of class, status, gender, nationality, and ethnicity.” (cited in Wolff, Janet 1999)

text here . . .

Webliography and Bibliography

Beilharz 2001: 335

Carveth, Donald L. 1984 [1999]. “Psychoanalysis and Social Theory: The Hobbesian Problem Revisited.” Psychoanalysis & Contemporary Thought. 7, 1 (1984), 43-98.

Carveth, Donald L. 1999. “Psychoanalysis and Social Theory: The Hobbesian Problem Revisited.” Revised on-line version.

(Gulbenkian 1995:33-34)

Mills, C. Wright. 1959. The Sociological Imagination. New York. Oxford University Press.

Wagner 1995:1

Weber, Max.

Wolff, Janet. 1999. “Cultural Studies and the Sociology of Culture.” Invisible Culture: an Electronic Journal for Visual Studies.

Working for the Government in the North

[They] began to compare employee benefits between the Nunavut government and the federal government.
Y works for Customs and Immigration as a Custom’s officer. Y inquired about working for a summer term here. (Y’s father worked here last year.) Y was offered a two year contract. The federal government was not interested in hiring anyone for a short term contract. Y’s employment package would include: an apartment, a car, 2 trips south a year with 6 weeks vacation each?, 2 trips south for business, a salary of upwards of 70,000 plus northern benefits. The total package sounds like it would be $120, 000 for a Custom’s officer in a town of 7000 people with an airport that does not have international flights. Y’swork would be fairly abstract to say the least!

I have heard people snickering about the limited enrollment of Nursing and Law students here in Iqaluit and the cost of these programs.

Few people snicker at these obscene government employees packages that drive up prices in Iqaluit and exaggerate the have and have not divide.

Sons and daughters of these employees reap the added benefits of well paid, prestigious summer jobs.

I have been trying to understand the phenomenon of so many Government people working on weekends and evenings. Z explained that it is considered to be a part of many jobs. Work is scheduled with an assumption that people will be willing to work overtime on weekends. These government workers have three month vacations! They are encouraged to travel on business trips often. No wonder they have to work overtime to catch up!

The language they use is closed jargon. Even the location of their offices is very confusing. They refer to their buildings by number not by name.

Z noted that for the last budget he recommended that the government not instate the use of vouchers to replace cheques for welfare. Z’s suggestions were not listened to. This is one of the Nunavut government’s … advisors?????

Aflicktion: The Wreck of Hope

Aflicktion: The Wreck of Hope

Originally uploaded by ocean.flynn.

Aflicktion: The Wreck of Hope

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Nanuq of the North II: Animal Rights vs Human Rights.” Speechless. Uploaded January 3, 2007.

The Bush administration took advantage of the way in which all eyes turn towards Santa’s North Pole, where big-eyed talking polar bears, reindeer and seals live in harmony, to announce that they would save these creatures from Nanook of the North. See story.
For a divergent point of view read Nunatsiak News article.
Nanook (nanuq Inuktitut for polar bear) was the name of the Eskimo hunter captured on film in the first documentary ever produced, Robert Flaherty’s (1922?) Nanook of the North, — still shown in film studies survey courses. Nanook the Stone Age-20the century hunter became an international legend as a lively, humourous and skillful hunter of polar bears, seals and white fox who tried to bite into the vinyl record Flaherty had brought with him. (The real “Nanook” died of tuberculosis as did countless Inuit from small communities ravaged by one of the worst epidemic’s of tuberculosis on the planet.)

On August 13, 1942 in Walt Disney studios’ canonical animated film Bambi it was revealed that many animals with cute eyes could actually talk and therefore shared human values. Nanook and his kind became the arch enemy of three generations of urban North Americans and Europeans. Hunters were bad. Cute-eyed animals that could talk were good. Today many animals’ lives have been saved from these allegedly cruel hunters by the billion dollar cute-eyed-talking-animals-industry.

The White House has once again come to the rescue of these vulnerable at-risk animals. (There was an entire West Wing episode in which a gift of moose meat was rejected by all staff since it came from a big-eyed-talking-animal. See Ejesiak and Flynn-Burhoe (2005) for more on how the urban debates pitting animal rights against human rights impacted on the Inuit.) Who would ever have suspected that the Bush administration cared so much about the environment that they would urge an end to the polar bear hunt, already a rare phenomenon to many Inuit since their own quotas protected them?

When I lived in the north the danger for polar bears did not reside in the hearts of hunters. Nanuq the polar bear who could not talk was starving. He hung out around hamlets like Churchill, Baker Lake or Iqaluit, looking for garbage since this natural habitat was unpredicatable as the climate changed. Some people even insisted that there was no danger from the polar bear who had wandered into town since he was ’skinny.’ That did not reassure me! I would have preferred to know that he was fat, fluffly and well-fed. Polar bears die from exhaustion trying to swim along their regular hunting routes as ice floes they used to be able to depend on melted into thin air literally. They die, not because there are not enough seals but because they need platform ice in the right seasons. That platform ice is disappearing. They die with ugly massive tumours in them developed from eating char, seals and other Arctic prey whose bodies are riddled with southern toxins that have invaded the pristine, vulnerable northern ecosystem. Nanuq is dying a slow painful death. Nanuq is drowning. Although he doesn’t sing he is a canary for us all.

Climate change and southern industrial toxins affect the fragile ecosystem of the Arctic first. The Inuit claimed in 2003,”Global warming is killing us too, say Inuit .”This is why Sheila Watt-Cloutier laid a law suit against the administration of the United States of America. Now the handful of Job-like Inuit who managed to survive the seal hunt fiasco of the 1980s and are still able hunt polar bear, will have yet another barrier put between them and the ecosystem they managed and protected for millennia. When I see Baroque art and read of the Enlightenment, I think Hudson’s Bay and the whalers in the north. It wasn’t the Inuit who caused the mighty leviathan to become endangered. Just how enlightened are we, the great grandchildren of the settlers today? Who is taking care of our Other grandparents?

Since the first wave of Inuit activists flooded the Canadian research landscape fueled by their frustrations with academic Fawlty Towers they morphed intergenerational keen observation of details, habits of memory, oral traditions and determination with astute use of artefacts and archives to produce focused and forceful research. When Sheila Watt-Cloutier representing the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) was acknowledged with two awards in one year for work done to protect the environment, I wondered how many cheered her on.

I don’t cheer so much anymore. I am too overwhelmed, too hopeless to speak. I myself feel toxic, perhaps another pollutant from the south — my name is despair. I don’t want to dampen the enthusiasm of those activists who still have courage to continue. For myself, I feel like the last light of the whale-oil-lit kudlik is Flicktering and there is a blizzard outside.


From wikipedia entry Sheila Watt-Cloutier

In 2002, Watt-Cloutier was elected[1][4] International Chair of ICC, a position she would hold until 2006[1]. Most recently, her work has emphasized the human face of the impacts of global climate change in the Arctic. In addition to maintaining an active speaking and media outreach schedule, she has launched the world’s first international legal action on climate change. On December 7, 2005, based on the findings of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, which projects that Inuit hunting culture may not survive the loss of sea ice and other changes projected over the coming decades, she filed a petition, along with 62 Inuit Hunters and Elders from communities across Canada and Alaska, to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, alleging that unchecked emissions of greenhouse gases from the United States have violated Inuit cultural and environmental human rights as guaranteed by the 1948 American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.[5]

Digitage elements:

Caspar David Friedrich’s (1824) The Sea of Ice
Tujjaat Resolution Island, abandoned, DEW line station DINA Northern Contaminated Sites Program (CSP) web site
My photo of ice floes in Charlottetown harbour, March 2000
A section of my acrylic painting entitled Nukara (2000)

Selected Bibliography

Eilperin, Juliet. (2006). “”U.S. Wants Polar Bears Listed as Threatened.” Washington Post Staff Writer. Wednesday, December 27, 2006; Page A01

Gertz, Emily. 2005. The Snow Must Go On. Inuit fight climate change with human-rights claim against U.S. Grist: Environmental News and Commentary. 26 Jul 2005.

The Guardian. 2003. “”Inuit to launch human rights case against the Bush Administration.”

DEW line contaminated sites in Nunavut.



This will be updated from EndNote. If you require a specific reference please leave a comment on this page.

Creative Commons Canadian Copyright 2.5 BY-NC-SA.

Modern myths

But I do not want my inaction to prevent me from sleeping. Once the story is handed to me, I have a choice. I can keep the stories and the images safely guarded inside my own mind, so it makes no one uncomfortable. But in so doing I am part of maintaining the status quo. Or I can say, “I heard this story. Someone showed me this picture. Do you think it reflects the truth?”

If from one group of people I am hearing that it doesn’t, that the victims of poverty are to blame for their own poverty, red warning lights go on in my head. This is a neoliberal message that has been carefully massaged so it begins to sound quite reasonable. It is part of the discourse all around me here in the predominantly white, middle classes. It is also the message of the mobile sociologists, the taxi drivers. Blame the poor. Do not waste your pity on them. It is their own fault. They choose to drink, to take drugs, to have babies too early, to drop out of school.

Another myth I hear, is that the Inuit way of life will inevitably be subsumed by the western, modern, capitalist world. A corollary is that the western way of living is an improvement on the charming, romantic but outdated way of life of the Inuit. In other words much of what is written in the Nunavut land claims will be rationally side swiped by the rhetoric of the rationalist.

Southern teachers are not always sensitive to other cultures

I have heard of one established, gifted Inuit artist who took courses … and lost so much self esteem that he/she could no longer produce! The teachers coming north are sometimes very inexperienced and have not lived with other cultures. They are too often curriculum centred and ignore the larger context in which the course is being offered: the past, present and future. They are too narrowly focussed on the present and on satisfying a narrow course content.

Teaching the teacher, April 8, 2002

She took off her heavy army parka letting it drop with a thud to the floor while she undid her wind pants, brushed the excess snow off and untied her heavy duty polar boots. As she glanced in the mirror she could see that her face was still red from the cold inspite of the scarf and hood.

Conversation in class today revealed even more troubling aspects of teaching, learning and research in Nunavut. She looked forward to cuddling under a blanket on the comfy sofa sipping on hot herbal lemon tea and watching Murder She Wrote television. She’d never had satellite or cable television in southern Canada and found this daily ritual to be soothing.

The CBC interview seemed as though it had taken place years not months ago. She would like to have the microphone again and retell the story as she saw it today but she knows it would not happen. People from southern Canada as well as many norterners prefer to believe in Arctic Adventurers and a benign colonialism. After spending only four months in Canada’s Arctic the fly-in professor of sociology was learning too much too fast.

Class discussions were brought frank and open. Students revealed the extent to which institutions of learning in Nunavut are not Inuit-centred.This has been difficult to for her to accept. She had learned about Inuit cooperatives and believed that they were run by Inuit.

Education has always been the door of hope for dealing with social inequities. She had been warned that Nunavut Arctic College was not an Inuit institution of learning. She learned very quickly that the Inuksuk High School was not Inuit-focused but Northern-focused. If an Inuk passed Grade 12 it was almost certain that either the mother or father was not Inuk! In 2002 there were no classes in Inuktitut. Temporarily the school janitor was hired to teach Inuktitut classes but this did not last. He spent class time playing soccer with students. It was seen as an easy credit for Inuktitut speakers rather than an opportunity for Inuit students to improve their vocabulary, grammar and writing skills in Inuktitut. It was explained to her that a qualified Inuktitut teacher could not be found!

One of the contemporary “myths” of Iqaluit society is that anyone who can be employed here is already working! This means that employment reinforcement will come from the south or from people transferring here from other nothern hamlets.

With an overdose of convenient truths change will be very slow. Her original enthusiasm was waning. The two recent suicides were often on her mind.

CD Rom: The Process behind the Creation of “Woman in the Centre”

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 1998. “CD Rom: The Process behind the Creation of “Woman in the Centre.” womenspace. Women’space: Summer. 1998. Vol. 3, No. 4. deadlink e-version: http://www.womenspace.ca/vol34k.html. Now hosted at Herstory Accessed 2007 deadlink in 2008 http://parolesdefemmes.ca/en/book/print/8

“Woman in the Centre: a Study of the Symbols of Womanhood in the Work of Jessie Oonark using Interactive Multimedia as a Method of Exploration” is a CD-ROM I submitted as partial requirement for my master’s at Carleton University. It was a first in many ways. How I came to do it with my low-tech, visual art background is my story.

I completed my M.A. in Canadian Studies in 1995 while working as contract art educator at the National Gallery of Canada. It was there that I was drawn to the powerful images of Inuit artist Jessie Oonark. In the hamlet of Baker Lake, Oonark RCA, ONLINE COMMUNICATION (Order of Canada) (1906-1985) began to produce wall-hangings, drawings and prints that would single her out as one of Canada’s greatest artists. Her work reflects the oral, nonlinear tradition of the Utkuhikhalingmiut. Slides of her work when viewed in series become one continuous, dynamic thesis. My first project on Oonark was in the form of a video. I had begun a twenty-five page paper as course requirement but was frustrated by the cumbersome descriptions of the dynamic transformation of forms in Oonark’s rich imagery.

Encouraged by my supervisor Professor Marion Jackson, I began to explore the possibility of presenting my thesis in video format. Through Carole Dence, the Director of Carleton University’s Teaching and Learning Resource Centre, I was introduced to various ways interactive multimedia applications were being used in teaching, learning and research. Interactive multimedia gives us a richer access to a mode of thinking that is non-linear which parallels Oonark’s work. By November, 1993 I was convinced that this was the format for my thesis. Interactive multimedia was the ideal vehicle for expressing the multi layers of meaning, visual puns and high tolerance of ambiguity in Jessie Oonark’s imagery.

My application for a grant, which would have enabled me to visit northern communities, such as Baker Lake, and museums where Jessie Oonark’s work was housed, was rejected. Given the experimental, interdisciplinary nature of the project, I was disappointed but not surprised. I had access to unpublished transcripts of interviews through the generosity of Professor Jackson, whose doctoral dissertation had been an invaluable resource on Baker Lake art and artists. I was able to gather and digitize visual, audio and textual data from various sources including sound clips of throat singing and Jessie Oonark’s voice.

During the development of the Oonark project I learned, with many hours of hands-on practice, as well as excellent coaching from Nestor Querido of the Teaching and Learning Resource Centre, to work with a variety of software. Asymetrix ToolBook, Adobe PhotoShop, the database FoxPro, bibliography database EndNote. Over twenty-five years experience as a visual artist gave me the confidence to use technology creatively. My first computer, an Apple IIC, equipped with educational software for my son, who learned differently, awed me with its potential for teaching and learning, in spite of its tiny memory. The equipment at the Centre appeared to have limitless potential. I soon learned that projects I was undertaking filled hard drive space rapidly.

Early in the project I worked on a MacIntosh with the software Inspiration for developing concept maps. The search for the ideal concept map included the search for a metaphor for the ways data connected. Branches, brain electrodes, three-dimensional spider webs and, finally, constellations spun in my mind. ToolBook allows the author to work creatively with scripting to maximize the hypertext capacity. As I became more familiar with the scripting and ToolBook’s considerable potential, the project unfolded organically. I wanted it to be user-friendly, logical but elegant with an emphasis on combining form with content. For example, I had at first created small blackboard-like text fields, aligned using the familiar index card-file perspective. Metaphorically these had no connection to the way Oonark would have presented information. I replaced them with text fields, with text in a white Arial font, deliberately transparent, revealing a textured background, a detail scanned from one of my own paintings, that suggests the ancient and the contemporary. These fields are often hidden and layered, revealed only when certain hotwords or buttons are clicked. The reader chooses the order in which text fields are revealed. The words of art historians, curators, anthropologists and Jessie Oonark are presented in a non-hierarchical, egalitarian way. After intensive work using this medium, I found unexpected routes into understanding aspects of Oonark’s works of art. Regional versions of well-known legends greatly enhanced the reading of some images.

I became absorbed by issues such as copyright, digitization, memory, resolution and projection systems. Although they often seemed to be insurmountable obstacles, solutions were found. The Teaching and Learning Resource Centre was constantly upgrading its equipment as the Oonark project developed. At times we turned to other departments such as Engineering and Geography for technical assistance. The price of slide scanners was prohibitive at that time so some of the slides were sent to Kodak Photo CD to be digitized on CD-ROM.

By September 1994 I was working late into the evenings at the Teaching and Learning Resource Centre after their office hours. My son came to pick me up on numerous evenings when the library building closed at 11:00 pm. By January 1995 I was faced with serious problems of lack of hard drive space. There are two hundred eighty-three pages containing over one hundred thirty images including photographs, maps, models and works of art; approximately two thousand hyperlinks, including hotwords and buttons; sound and video clips, animation and over a hundred fifty text fields of varying lengths. The School of Art and Culture purchased an 800 mb external drive so I could continue working.

Towards the end it was suggested that a printed version be submitted. My explanation of the impossibility of such a print-out was accepted, given the depth of the project and the complexity of the layered text fields each one with hotwords connected to other text fields and images. The project was submitted in March on the external drive and in the form of taped back up. After the three readers had seen it, it was later burnt in a CD-ROM format. For anyone interested in seeing the project, the Teaching and Learning Resource Centre of Carleton University, Ottawa, have always had an updated version, as I have continued to perfect the application even after graduation in June 1995. I have added pop-up indexes and an improved concept map.

While in process the Oonark project was viewed by curators and Education officers from the National Gallery of Canada, the Director and staff of the Inuit Art Section of the Department of Northern Affairs. At Carleton I have presented to students and professors from various departments such as Psychology, Biology, Women’s Studies, Aboriginal Studies and Geography through Teaching Fairs, classroom visits and demonstrations at the Teaching and Learning Resource Centre. Demonstrations of my project became a catalyst for others.

Since graduation I have presented the Oonark project numerous times including “New Media and Inuit Art”, at QAGGIT held at Carleton University in 1996, organized by the Inuit Art Foundation, the 10TH Inuit Studies Conference held at Memorial University of Newfoundland, August 16, 1996, at the Art Gallery of Ontario to the Independent Inuit Art Collectors in 1997. A working model of interactive multimedia project on Jessie Oonark, work-in-progress, was available for use by viewers at the opening and the Symposium linked to Qamanittuaq, Drawings by Baker Lake Artists at Carleton University, March 8, 1997 and most recently on May 30, 1998 at the Women’s Studies, Women’s Equality and the New Communications Technology colloquium’s CyberCafé May 30, 1998 during the Annual Conference of the Canadian Women’s Studies Association at the University of Ottawa campus. I am working towards an improved, published version of the CD-ROM. I have considered an Internet format for the Oonark application. I am not convinced, however, that the frustration of slow downloads of complicated layered pages and images is near to being alleviated on the majority of computers.

Email: Maureen at: ocean.flynn@gmail.com

Canadian Identity Issues http://aix1.uottawa.ca/~hflyn029/index.html [This page is no longer accessible] The final project was submitted for a doctoral seminar course in Canadian Studies.

Exhibition Reflexivité: Double Vision
Art exhibition in Ottawa and Charlottetown.