Amerindians and Inuit: beliefs in transformation



New religious and spiritual dynamics constitute an important facet of the current restructuring of aboriginal traditions. Directed by Robert Crépeau from Université de Montréal, the Équipe de recherche sur les spiritualités amérindiennes et inuites (Amerindian and Inuit Spirituality Research Group) is studying the historical and sociological context of this renewal; its basis in religion, myth and ritual; and the general characteristics of contemporary Amerindian and Inuit spiritualities. The group's work is based on observations made in the boreal and arctic regions, northwestern Canada, and Central and South America.

This research has led to a significant increase in our knowledge of the current state of Amerindian and Inuit religions and cosmologies. It has also highlighted the role played by the religious experience in the First Nations' response to advanced modernization and globalization.

The results show that the religious experience has become a key element of social and political reconstruction at a time when Aboriginal people are increasing their spiritual interactions. We need only think of the connection created between Innu leaders from Quebec's Lower North Shore region with the Galibi of French Guiana; the healing circles organized by Shuar Jivaro shamans from Ecuador in Quebec and Ontario communities; or the evangelical cults founded by Fijian groups in the Arctic or Korean groups in the Subarctic.

In the Americas, the Aboriginal response to globalization had received very little attention in academic circles, and spirituality's role in this response was a subject that had been largely ignored. The group's work is has significantly increased our knowledge about these new networks of meaning and memory. Their results are the subject of an upcoming book, Dynamiques religieuses et autochtones des Amériques, to be released in 2011. The researchers also took part in the 109th annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in New Orleans, the annual conference of the Centre interuniversitaire d'études et de recherches autochtones in Quebec City, and the 30th conference of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion in Spain.

Team

Équipe de recherche sur les spiritualités amérindiennes et inuites

Director

Robert Crépeau, Université de Montréal

Regular members

  • Marie-Pierre Bousquet, Université de Montréal 
  • Frédéric Benjamin Laugrand, Université Laval 
  • Louise Iseult Paradis, Université de Montréal 
  • Sylvie Poirier, Université Laval