Ujarak, Iqallijuq, and Kupaaq were elders from the Inuit community on Igloolik Island in Nunavut. The three elders, among others, shared with Bernard Saladin d’Anglure the narratives which make up the heart of Inuit Stories of Being and Rebirth. Through their words, and historical sources recorded by Franz Boas and Knud Rasmussen, Saladin d’Anglure examines the Inuit notion of personhood and its relationship to cosmology and mythology.
Central to these stories are womb memories, narratives of birth and reincarnation, and the concept of the third sex—an intermediate identity between male and female. As explained through first-person accounts and traditional legends, myths, and folk tales, the presence of transgender individuals informs Inuit relationships to one another and to the world at large, transcending the dualities of male and female, human and animal, human and spirit.
This new English edition includes the 2006 preface by Claude Lévi-Strauss and an afterword by Bernard Saladin d’Anglure.
About the authors
Bernard Saladin d'Anglure is a Canadian anthropologist and ethnographer. His work has primarily concerned itself with the Inuit of Northern Canada, especially practices of shamanism and conceptions of gender. He speaks French, English, and Inuktitut fluently. He is currently Professor Emeritus (Retired) at the Université Laval. He translated Sanaaq into French.
Claude Levi-Strauss (1908-2009) was a French social anthropologist who became a leading scholar in the structural approach to social anthropology. Levi-Strauss was awarded the Wenner-Gren Foundation's Viking Fund Medal in 1966 and the Erasmus Prize in 1975. He was awarded several honorary doctorate degrees from prestigious institutions such as Oxford, Yale, Harvard, and Columbia. His books included A World on the Wane, Structural Anthropology, The Savage Mind, Anthropologu and Myth, and Look, Listen, Read.
“The new English edition of Inuit Stories of Being and Rebirth: Gender, Shamanism, and the Third Sex — translated from the French by Peter Frost — is a major accomplishment. This is one of the great classics of humanities and social science research in the Canadian Arctic.”
"Saladin d’ Anglure […] shares a philosophical perspective that sex and gender play interchangeable roles as a means of Inuit survival. The stories describe Inuit perceptions of sex and gender in ways that are unlike Western binary concepts of sexual and gender identity. […] This book is a lens that can allow a glimpse into Inuit knowledge systems and offers a rare account of how Inuit established social structures and unity among the sexes prior to European contact. While some of the practices of naming have changed in a post-modern Inuit context, the stories and analysis by Saladin d’ Anglure imply that unity among the sexes is an important aspect of how Inuit have survived as a distinct Indigenous people within some of the harshest environmental living conditions on earth."
Canadian Journal Of Native Studies
“The strongest point of the book is its rich capacity to generate analyses of Inuit story and life. While many works provide different Indigenous stories from across Canada, this text goes further and provides variants of and insight into the stories themselves.”