A cross-cultural comparison of scientific language use: Indigenous and Eurocentric discourse on issues regarding caribou in the North

  • Author / Creator
    Bechtel, Robert E
  • This work is an attempt to understand and lessen the borders that exist between Indigenous knowledge and Eurocentric science. I contend that the two groups represent distinct cultures and that it is important to look at the differences and similarities that occur in language use as the two communicate on issues of mutual concern. I argue that discourse can shape knowledge in two very distinct ways within two different modes of thought; a narrative mode that is used primarily by the Aboriginal community and a scientific mode that is utilized primarily by the scientists. The research involves discourse analysis as a means of studying a unique opportunity to compare and contrast two cultures speaking on the topic of preservation of caribou in the Northwest Territories of northern Canada. Although the intention of both the Aboriginal community members and the Eurocentric scientists are the same; to preserve the caribou numbers that exist in the North, the differences in language use can create turbulence between the borders of the two cultures. I argue that this analysis will assist in comprehending and mitigating the borders that have been created that now impact life in the North. In addition, this work represents an autobiographical journey that proposes curriculum theory as a reconceptualization of the current mindset of Eurocentric scientists and science educators. While governments, government agencies, and resource management boards continue to try and bridge the borders between Aboriginal peoples and Eurocentric agents, they may find that they are better served by reconceptualizing how they view and share knowledge. Curriculum theory provides an option to not only imagine a different future but also provides strategies for looking inwards and evaluating one's own method of knowledge sharing. Aboriginal people and Eurocentric scientists both have a vested interest in protecting and maintaining caribou populations in northern Canada, but how they communicate those intentions to each other is critical if collaboration is to be possible and understanding how each other uses language can be a valuable aid in mitigating those borders.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2011
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Pimm, David (Secondary Education)
    • Donald, Dwayne (Secondary Education)
    • Shanahan, Marie-Claire (Elementary Education)
    • Sutherland, Dawn (Education)
    • Parlee, Brenda (Rural Economy)