Indigenous identity in post-colonial Greenland

Agnese Auzane, Caroline Wegens, Amalie Andersen & Katarzyna Arendt

Studenteropgave: Semesterprojekt


Abstract This project examines how Greenlandic Inuit assert and negotiate their indigenous identity in contemporary, postcolonial Greenland. We analyse modernisation, urbanisation and nation-building patterns and developments, as well as their meaning for the indigenous identity of Greenlandic Inuit. We also examine the new forms of expression among Inuit youth. Greenlandic Inuit constitute a contemporary and highly urbanised society, as urban life has become a way of life for the majority of Inuit. Inuit indigenous experiences demonstrate how they adapt and adjust to contemporary world, but at the same time preserve their traditions and aspects of distinctive indigenous ways of life. Historically, Inuit have been excluded from the discourse, as well as from the important decisions concerning their lives and land. This project prioritizes Inuit voices and perspectives; and examines Inuit social and political discourses, resistance and naming practices, as well as the relationship between urbanisation, modernisation and indigeneity. The project examines new forms of indigenous expression, which integrate the traditional aspects with modern ones. This project focuses on new ways of ‘being’ indigenous and challenges the notion that indigeneity and urbanization are mutually exclusive. We acknowledge the diverse indigenous experiences and contemporary lives, and challenge the notion of static ‘authentic’ culture. Indigenous cultures, and thus indigenous identities are not static and ‘frozen in time’, they evolve and adapt over time - just like all other cultures. Colonial status was officially abolished in 1953, however colonial relations continued after this point. Now, Greenlandic Inuit developed very extensive system of self-government. At the same time, Inuit gained political power giving them ability to make their discourses and representations of themselves the dominant ones. However, they continue to face many challenges related to colonial past as they struggle to achieve full self-determination. Colonial past and self-determination are embedded in Inuit social and political discourse, music, storytelling and narratives. This project examines the challenges Inuit face and how they are coming to terms with colonial experiences through reconstruction of their indigenous identity and quest towards self-determination. The Greenlandic Inuit continuously draw upon on traditional aspect in the process of construction and negotiation of their collective Inuit identity. They stay connected to their indigenous past, while they look into and actively shape their contemporary future.

UddannelserBasis - International Samfundsvidenskabelig Bacheloruddannelse, (Bachelor uddannelse) Basis
Udgivelsesdato1 jun. 2014


  • Inuit
  • indigenous
  • identity
  • Greenland