Briggs, Jean L. 1929–

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Briggs, Jean L. 1929–

(Jean Louise Briggs)

PERSONAL: Born May 28, 1929, in Washington, DC; daughter of Horace W. (a Swedenborgian minister) and Margaret (an aide-in-chief to husband; maiden name, Worcester) Briggs. Education: Vassar College, B.A., 1951; Boston University, M.A., 1960; Harvard University, Ph.D., 1967. Hobbies and other interests: Hiking, photography, reading, letter-writing, "being with friends and family, being in and observing beautiful wilderness."

ADDRESSES: Office—Department of Anthropology, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada A1C 5S7.

CAREER: Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, assistant professor, 1967–69, associate professor, 1969–75, professor of anthropology, 1975–97, university research professor, 1986–92, Henrietta Harvey Professor, 1994–97, distinguished lecturer, 1995, 1996, professor emeritus, 1997–, member of Centre for the Application of Developmental Science, 1998–99, department head, 1974–77, member of executive committee, Centre for Research in Labrador, 1976. University of Manchester, Simon Professor, 1991; University of Edinburgh, Munro Lecturer, 1991; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, MillerComm Lecturer at Center for Advanced Studies, 1998; visiting professor at universities in Canada, the United States, and elsewhere, including University of Tromsø, 1976, and Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1980–81; visiting scholar at other institutions, including Scott Polar Institute, Cambridge University, 1986, University of Bergen, 1986–87, and University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2003. Conducted extensive field work among the Inuit people of northern Alaska and Canada; also engaged in field work in the Negev Desert of Israel, 1985, and Sireniki, Russia, 1993. Canada Council, member of Consultative Committee on Language, the Individual, and Society, 1973–75; Social Science Research Council of Canada, member of council, 1975–76; Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, member of academic advisory council, 1982–86. Consultant for the television documentary "Spirit in a Landscape: The People Beyond," an episode of the television series Images of Canada, broadcast by Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 1976.

MEMBER: Royal Society of Canada (fellow, 2001–).

AWARDS, HONORS: Grants from Northern Scientific Training Program, 1977–79, 1988, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, 1992–93, 1995–2008, and National Science Foundation (of the United States, for Alaska and Russia), 1996; honorary Phil.Doc., University of Bergen, 1996; Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing, Society for Humanistic Anthropology, and Boyer Prize, both 1999, for Inuit Morality Play: The Emotional Education of a Three-Year-Old; Lifetime Achievement Award, Society for Psychological Anthropology, 2005; additional grants from Aboriginal Language Literacy Fund of the Northwest Territories, National Institute of Mental Health (of the United States), Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Northern Science Research Group of Canada's Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Canada Council, and National Museum of Man.


Never in Anger: Portrait of an Eskimo Family, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1970.

Inuit Morality Play: The Emotional Education of a Three-Year-Old, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1998.

Contributor to books, including Many Sisters, edited by Carolyn Matthiasson, Free Press (New York, NY), 1974; Learning Nonaggression, edited by Ashley Montagu, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1978; Interpretive Approaches to Children's Socialization, edited by W.A. Corsaro and P.J. Miller, Jossey-Bass (San Francisco, CA), 1992; The Anthropology of Peace and Nonviolence, edited by L.E. Sponsel and T.A. Gregor, Lynne Rienner (Boulder, CO), 1994; and Hunters and Gatherers in the Modern World: Conflict, Resistance, and Self-Determination, edited by Megan Biesele, Robert Hitchcock, and Peter P. Schweitzer, Berghahn Books (Providence, RI), 1998. Contributor of articles and reviews to scholarly journals, including Arctic Anthropology, AnthroGlobe, Ethos, Papers in Linguistics, Western Canadian Journal of Anthropology, Etudes Inuit Studies, Seminars in Psychiatry, University of Manitoba Medical Journal, and Arctic Medical Research. Psychoanalytic Study of Society, associate editor, 1982–1986, member of editorial board, 1986–93; Etudes Inuit Studies, member of editorial board, 1977–98.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Preparing Utkuhiksalingmiutitut Postbase Dictionary, with Alana Johns and others, completion expected in 2008; and Utkuhiksalingmiutitut Inuktitut Dictionary, with Alana Johns and others, 2010.

SIDELIGHTS: Jean L. Briggs once told CA: "On the surface, I write for academic reasons. My first book, Never in Anger: Portrait of an Eskimo Family, was my doctoral dissertation and the inspiration of Cora DuBois, grand lady of anthropology, who advised that my thesis should consist of 'five anecdotes, strung together somehow.' 'Of course,' she said, 'we'll have to pack the Committee.' To that radically imaginative suggestion I owe my entire career. Later papers and my second book, Inuit Morality Play: The Emotional Education of a Three-Year-Old, are means of repaying all the other individuals, institutions, and agencies who have so generously supported my lifetime of fieldwork among the Canadian Inuit. A third compelling and flattering academic reason for writing is that other scholars ask me to contribute to their undertakings: conferences, workshops, and edited collections of papers.

"There are more profound motivations for writing, too. For one thing, writing down the experiences I have had living with Inuit in their spectacular and very rich northern world helps me to keep, cherish, and relive those experiences. It also helps me to find their lessons—to discover what they have taught me, about Inuit, about myself, and about human nature, or (as I prefer) natures. I respect and admire Inuit ways of being with people, teaching children, resolving human problems, and relating to the natural world, and I would like other people to know about these alternatives, too. I also want to pay homage to the Inuit individuals I love in all their complexity. Not least, I love the activity of writing. It's a challenge, it's fun (as well as torture, on occasion), and it keeps my mind alive. Writing relates me to the world and to myself in a special way, and for all these reasons, it's deeply, creatively satisfying. For me, work with language has always been, and continues to be, the work most worth doing."