Writing the Hamatša

Ethnography, Colonialism, and the Cannibal Dance

Aaron Glass

Writing the Hamatša

Aaron Glass

Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

448 pages | 27 halftones, 2 maps | 6 x 9
Cloth $95.00 ISBN: 9780774863773 Will Publish June 2021 For sale in USA only
Despite settler attempts to eradicate Hamatša, the ritual remains an important prerogative of the Kwakwaka’wakw people. When anthropologists sought to confine the cannibal dance to the past, the Kwakwaka’wakw adapted and preserved its dramatic choreography, magnificent bird masks, and aura for the future.

Writing the Hamatša offers a critical survey of efforts to interpret the ritual over the past four centuries. Going beyond postcolonial critiques that often ignore indigenous agency, Aaron Glass highlights how the Kwakwaka’wakw responded to the ethnographic encounter by transforming a set of specific performances into a broad cultural icon. The result is a fascinating study of how indigenous peoples repurpose and contest texts to shape their identities under settler colonialism.
 
Review Quotes
Michael E. Harkin, University of Wyoming
“Aaron Glass explores the multifaceted history of the Hamatša dance from an intercultural, intertextual viewpoint, demonstrating how it has circulated in various contexts for more than a century. This extraordinary work is fundamentally an ethnography of anthropology itself.”
Marie Mauzé, Laboratoire d’anthropologie sociale, Collège de France
Writing the Hamatša incorporates probably every single text ever published on what is famously known as the Cannibal Dance. This is one of the best contributions to Northwest Coast anthropology, to the history of anthropology, and to Franz Boas’s rendition of ethnographic data available today.”
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