Hunting and Giving or Working and Selling? Contemporary Entanglements of Innu Economy and Cosmology

Émile Duchesne


By exploring the ethnographic example of the Innu of northeastern Québec (Canada), this paper proposes an analysis of the interaction between economy and cosmology using the concept of the production of persons. Through an examination of the transformations in subsistence and exchange patterns, it shows how the contemporary reality of the Innu is entangled between their traditional hunting cosmology and the order of the market and the State. The paper explores three main themes: 1) The importance of hunting and working towards the production of persons among the Innu, 2) The gift and commodity continuum in contemporary exchange patterns of food from the land, and 3) The entanglements of hunting and monetary economy in ritual and cosmological praxis. The main conclusion is that economy and cosmology are fundamentally tied together and that the economic and cosmologic practices of the Innu echo their political and identity affirmations.

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