Christopher Fraser


Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Drechsler, Prof. Dr. Erik S. Reinert

Opponent: Prof. Dr. Rainer Kattel, UCL

Defense: 4 June 2021


Abstract: Over the past five centuries, Inuit society in Canada’s Eastern Arctic underwent massive social, spiritual, technological and economic transitions. These transitions were the result of the forced assimilation of Inuit into westerns modes of living and the colonization of Inuit lands. This caused significant societal and cultural damage to Inuit communities. Many of these transitions were the result of the Canadian federal government’s policies and programs which forced the assimilation, appropriation or diffusion of new technologies and modes of living across the Canadian Arctic. This occurred without the informed consent or full participation of Inuit. Using the narrative approach to social science research, this thesis explores how Inuit achieved technological empowerment and self-determination through the creation of governance institutions and industry. Historical records or research on Inuit society and the self-described, autobiographical experiences of numerous Inuit are considered in light of what leading social science research says about the relationship between technology, governance and societies. The thesis finds that Inuit recognized that not having control over technological and societal change, resulting from the forced assimilation of western technologies and ways of living through colonialism, was harmful to Inuit society. Inuit, therefore, exerted their agency over these changes by forming institutions of governance and Inuit-owned industries that responded to the dominance of western society’s ways of living and supported Inuit society in adapting to the unrelenting forces of technological change and progress in the global world.


Keywords: Inuit; self-governance; technology governance; colonialism; indigenous technology policy