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About Hugh Brody

Hugh Brody is an anthropologist and writer who holds the Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Studies at the University of the Fraser Valley. He has made a number of TV documentaries and co-wrote and directed the movie nineteen-nineteen.

Articles by Hugh Brody

This week's editor

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Questions of interests: Canada and the puzzle of Fiduciary Obligation

Canada is seeking to move towards a new kind of reconciliation with its First Nations. But what does it mean to speak of the “best interests” of the vulnerable?

A day out in Calais

An anthropologist's day in "The Jungle", the patch of land in Calais that brings shame to British and French governance

December 1, 1961: Fly the flag of independence - West Papua and the Indonesian Empire

Life in the furthest recesses of New Guinea has not only been transformed but devastated by forces that originate at the core of global and industrial politics. The realities – and morality – of our world are to be seen starkly at work in one of the most spectacular, rich and yet remote corners of the world.

Gaddafi and the Tuareg, the "Lords of the desert"

What is the basis of the Tuareg-Gaddafi alliance that is playing itself out in the end-game in Libya? And to what extent is our understanding coloured by how we like to think of this tribe of the Sahara, or perhaps how they have been used in other peoples’ narratives – including our own?

Botswana, the Bushmen/San, and HIV/Aids

The catastrophic HIV/Aids pandemic in southern Africa threatens even its most vigorous economy, Botswana. But it is displacement and dispossession that create the greatest vulnerability to HIV. And it may be that rights to land and a people's level of confidence in their own identity are a central means of protection against ravaging illness. Is this what we can learn from the Botswana margins?

The absence of war

Even in remote areas of Namibia and Botswana, and in the Inuit region of Nunavut in Canada, the distant Iraq war enters social discourse and everyday encounters. War is both near and far. Hugh Brody journeys to a landscape where territory, history and mind all meet, to ask: are the world’s indigenous people ancestors or contemporaries of the rest of mankind?

'You have to have a story' - Aboriginal memory and opportunity

The history of Australia is often told as a story of how settlers made productive use of an empty land, thus saving Aboriginal peoples from destitution. Modern Aboriginal land campaigns are based on different rememberings, finds Hugh Brody. They ‘reclaim’ the past as well as ‘claim’ the present, and in the process weave a unique tapestry of memory, ownership – and opportunity for a future.

The Bushmen/San: real, pure, or just themselves?

In southern Africa, there is intense debate about how ‘real’ is the claim of Bushmen/San people in the southern Kalahari area to their land and even their identity. The challenge to them often questions their lack of ‘purity’. At its core, says Hugh Brody, is an assertion of power that seeks to entrap. In response, we need to observe what is actually happening in San lives today, where the creative and the impure are finding modern expression.

In memory of Elsie Vaalbooi

A century-old woman died two months ago near the South Africa–Namibia border. Her knowledge of N|u, a rare language of the southern Kalahari, was a key element in the campaign by the Bushmen/San people to recover their ancestral lands. In paying her warm tribute in his first From the edge column, Hugh Brody sees her life as a window on to key contemporary questions of identity, history, and belonging.

The hunter's view of landscape: a response to Roger Scruton

A distinguished anthropologist of the Inuit agrees that in English tradition hunters and farmers use landscape in distinct and complementary ways. But against the broader canvas of human history and the experience of hunter–gatherer societies, there are vital differences: of knowledge of territory, of social relations, and in the nature of ‘respect’.

<i>Atanarjuat</i> - The Runner

Zacharias Kunuk’s feature film, the first made in the Inuit language, translates into a universal art form the shared mythic world of the people of the Canadian High Arctic. How is this global film viewed in its local, Nunavut context? And what impact might it have on an anglophone Canada whose own stories are both enriched and provoked by the linguistic worlds to its north?

The centre at the edge

Telling the stories and advancing the rights of indigenous peoples – from the high Arctic to the World Bank – has been Hugh Brody’s life-work. Mapping the imaginative territory of hunter-gatherer lives, languages and perceptions, he draws fundamental conclusions about human nature. If the essence of our civilisation is revealed in its relationship with those beyond its frontier, what does that say about us? Anthony Barnett, Todd Gitlin, David Hayes and Tom Nairn ask the questions.
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