Thursday, February 19, 2009

Never in Anger

Jared Wright, Eric Scott, John Book

The latest book in the "Book a Week" series is Never in Anger by Jean L. Briggs. Never in Anger is an ethnographical study of the Eskimos (Utku) living in the tundra of the Canadian Northwest. Jean is adopted by an Utku family and is treated as if she was their daughter. Briggs explores the routine lifestyle of the Utku and also the emotional relationships that they share with each other. One particular aspect of eskimo life that Jean experiences is the Utku's taboo of anger. Jean is ostrasized from the community at the conclusion of the book.

Read as an anthropological study, this book is very interesting. Jean exposes Utku life in its most rudimentary form. I found the Eskimos' interactions with each other to be very intriguing as they differ from what I've come to expect living in a Western society. As an ethnographical study, however, Jean is too closely integrated into the lives of the Utku to objectively study them. Nonetheless, Briggs offers a lot of insight into the behavavior of the society.


  1. That's some interesting insight on how you think she was not objective enough in the studying of those es-kee-mos. I think that also happened to the author of the mole people although she doesn't make it very apparent that she has formed relationships with the people down there.

  2. I feel that without her emotional involvement she would not have been able to gain as deep an insight as she did. Based on what she writes I feel that a general classification of passive aggressive is appropriate in describing their culture.

  3. I agree: Jean integrated way too close to the people she was studying. But the next question to raise is how much is too much?