Briggs, Jean L. 1994. “’Why Don’t You Kill Your Baby Brother?’ The Dynamics of Peace in Canadian Inuit Camps” In The Anthropology of Peace and Nonviolence, edited by Leslie E. Sponsel and Thomas Gregor, p.155-181. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1994

The title, ‘”Why Don’t You Kill Your Baby Brother?” may come as a shock as the heading for an article about peace. Yet, as Jean Briggs shows, the teasing of children among the Inuit has a role in preparing them for a community life that is generally peaceful. We use the term generally because Inuit culture has been far from entirely peaceful. “Murder was known in many—perhaps all—Inuit societies, and in some it seems to have been a very frequent occurrence,” writes Briggs. Today, too, even when camp life is tranquil, suspicion and fear are not far from the surface. The dynamics of peace and conflict management include such techniques as joking, reassurance, discretion, and isolation. What emerges very powerfully from Briggs’s empathic treatment of Inuit life, how­ever, is that peace may have a dark side. One would wish that a small community of closely related individuals would be held together by perception of mutual interest and the love and respect that emerges from long association. These qualities are abundant among the Inuit. But it appears that they are not sufficient. In their human, and therefore imperfect world, the peace is also maintained by institutions that generate (and yet contain) fear, anger, and dis­trust. (editors’ abstract)

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