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At the Bridge
James Teit and an Anthropology of Belonging

Wickwire, Wendy
Publisher:  UBC Press
Date Written:  01/06/2019
Year Published:  2019  
Pages:  400pp   Price:  $34.95  
Publisher's description:

Every once in a while, an important historical figure makes an appearance, makes a difference, and then disappears from the public record. James Teit (1864–1922) was such a figure. A prolific ethnographer and tireless Indian rights activist, Teit spent four decades helping British Columbia’s Indigenous peoples in their challenge of the settler-colonial assault on their lives and territories. Yet his story is little known.

At the Bridge chronicles Teit’s fascinating story. From his base at Spences Bridge, British Columbia, Teit practised a participant- and place-based anthropology – an anthropology of belonging – that covered much of BC and northern Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and Montana. Whereas his contemporaries, including famed anthropologist Franz Boas, studied Indigenous peoples as the last survivors of “dying cultures” in need of preservation in metropolitan museums, Teit worked with them as members of living cultures actively asserting jurisdiction over their lives and lands. Whether recording stories and songs, mapping place-names, or participating in the chiefs’ fight for fair treatment, he made their objectives his own. With his allies, he produced copious, meticulous records; an army of anthropologists could not have achieved a fraction of what Teit achieved in his short life.

Wendy Wickwire’s beautifully crafted narrative accords Teit the status he deserves. At the Bridge serves as a long-overdue corrective, consolidating Teit’s place as a leading and innovative anthropologist in his own right.

This book will appeal to those interested in the history of anthropology, settler-Indigenous relations in the Pacific Northwest, and Indigenous political resistance in the early twentieth century. Scholars of law, treaties, and politics in British Columbia will find invaluable information in this book.

2020, Short-listed - Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize, UBC Library
2020, Short-listed - Best Scholarly Book in Canadian History, Canadian Historical Association
2020, Short-listed - Roderick Haig-Brown Award, BC and Yukon Book Prizes
2020, Short-listed - Lieutenant Governor's Medal for Historical Writing, BC Historical Federation
2020, Short-listed - Ryga Award for Best Book on Social Justice Awareness in Literature, The George Ryga Society
2020, Commended - The Wilson Book Prize, McMaster University
2020, Winner - Clio BC, Canadian Historical Association
2020, Winner - Canada Prize in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
2020, Winner - Labrecque-Lee Book Award, Canadian Anthropology Society
2020, Winner - Best Book in Canadian Studies, The Canadian Studies Network

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