Browsing Arizona Anthropologist: Issue #16 (2005) by Authors
The Steel Dog in the Canadian Arctic: A Historical Case Study of Technological ChangePavri, Eric Hoshang; University of Arizona (University of Arizona, Department of Anthropology, 2005)During the "Snowmobile Revolution" of the late 1960s, the snowmobile largely supplanted the dog team as the main form of transport in the Canadian Arctic. This essay draws from historical and ethnograpphic sources to investigate practical advantages and disadvantages to adoption of the new technology, and then considers whether this episode of rapid technological change resulted in "cultural loss" in Arctic communities. While it is clear that widespread adoption of the snowmobile technological complex (machines, fuel, tools, skills, knowledge) caused significant changes in life in the Far North, it also appears that the meanings and values associated with traditional subsistence hunting were generally not lost, and in some cases were reinforced during this period of technological transition. Finally, drawing on various academic traditions such as the Social Construction of Technology school, ecological models of convergent cycles, postmodern critiques of modernization and development, and the appropriate technology movement, the essay then questions simplistic notions of cultural loss by considering the common evolution of culture and technology.