|Amelia Fay, Taking Notes|
My research focuses on Labrador Inuit-European contact during the 18th century. My initial research questions were quite basic and centred around this relationship: what were the effects of a European presence in Labrador?; did they affect women and men differently? These questions remain part of the project but it has evolved to consider them not just within the 18th century as an isolated period of time, but rather as part of long-term historical process.
|Excavating on Black Island|
I began my research by excavating a sod house on Black Island that was mentioned in a 1776 Moravian census. According to this census, an Inuit woman named Mikak lived in this dwelling and her life story is significant as she was both heavily involved in the coastal trade network and influential in the granting of British land to the Moravian missionaries who established their first mission in Nain in 1771. Now I’m taking this data and comparing it to other sod house collections from various time periods and locations to see if Mikak’s significance is at all recognizable archaeologically and to investigate my initial research questions along with two more: did the effects of a European presence change over time?; what was the Inuit response to an increasing European presence?
2) How did you become interested in this particular problem?
|Sod Houses Before 2011 Excavation|
3) Has your project changed since you originally began working on it? How?
It has changed in a lot of little ways, largely through the process of our PhD program. As awful as the comprehensive exams were (in terms of stress and anxiety) they really did help shape and define my project. I have added more sites for my comparison to Black Island, and my selection of these sites was guided by my theoretical approach that went from something fairly basic to this whole multiscalar idea of thinking about long-term historical processes to provide context for short-term events.
4) If you could ask the people/person who lived at your site one question
what would it be?
That’s a really good question because I’ve often thought about what I would say or ask if I could go back in time. I suppose if I could only ask one thing it might be ‘why did you leave?’. To me the site is an ideal location but it doesn’t seem to have been occupied for many winters. Can I add that my initial response to this question was ‘what’s with the mussels?’, my 2011 field crew will understand what that’s all about!
|2011 Crew on the boat back to Nain|
5) Has your research taught you anything about yourself? What?
|Amelia and Crew at work|
6) Why did you choose MUN (Memorial University of Newfoundland)?
I came to MUN in 2005 for my MA. There were a number of reasons that led me here: shared interests with faculty members; cheap tuition; the desire for an adventure (leaving Winnipeg to move to an island in the North Atlantic seemed like a pretty good one); and MUN was highly recommended by a stamp-collecting archaeologist friend of my grandfather. He told me that I had to go to MUN and that I had to tell Jim Tuck that Sid Kroeker said hi (which I did, one beer-filled night at Ben’s).
|Old Seal Shack on Black Island|
Ooh and I could also mention how awesome it is to have people at the PAO (Provincial Archaeology Office) and The Rooms who are always willing to help out too, give information and advice, and share their expertise!
7) How do you unwind when you need to get away from your research?
I watch really bad tv. I mean really bad…the kind of tv shows you wouldn’t think a PhD Candidate would watch (Teen Mom, Real Housewives of <insert any of the locations here>, Say Yes to the Dress…the list goes on). I find that watching tv helps me turn my brain off since it’s constantly whirring otherwise. These awful shows serve a secondary purpose in that they often make me feel a little bit better about myself too (something that every stressed-out/anxiety-riddled PhD student needs).
8) What is one thing that you can’t imagine doing fieldwork without?
9) What books or websites would you recommend if people want to learn more about your area of interest in general? Or your project in particular?
I’ve got some of my own publications in the works but nothing printed yet so if people are interested in my project specifically they should email me: aemfay @ mun . ca
2009 Eighteenth Century Labrador Inuit in England. Arctic 62(1):45-64.
Stopp, Marianne and Greg Mitchell
2010 “Our Amazing Visitors”: Catherine Cartwright’s Account of Labrador Inuit in England. Arctic 63(4)
Taylor, J. Garth
1983 The Two Worlds of Mikak, Part I. The Beaver 31(3):4-13.
1984 The Two Worlds of Mikak, Part II. The Beaver 31(4):18-25.
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1,3,6) M. Merkuratsuk
2,10) Banner, Tim Rast based on a linocut by Lori White
4,5,7-9) Amelia Fay