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Hugh Brody is renowned for his work with indigenous peoples.
In the 80s he was engaged in a lawsuit brought by the Inuit people of the Arctic against the Canadian government.
Brody lived with the Inuit, learned their language, recorded all their stories, which were then used as evidence in the court case – which the Inuit won.
In his new book, he returns to the Arctic and is confronted by the deterioration of the situation there.
The Inuit now possess the land, but the government has pressured them into living in settlements rather than out on the land.
Their children are forced to go to school where they learn to speak English, losing their own language, which is the element that ties them to their land.
Sexual abuse by the treachers intimidates the children into a silence that results in widespread suicide among the young.
This silence ties in with Brody’s own story – a mother hounded out of her home in Vienna by the Nazis, causing her to retreat into the same kind of silence that Tom Stoppard experienced from his mother, who also fled from the Nazis.
As a writer and anthropologist, Brody’s concern has always been with the human condition, arguing for the need to safeguard the most vulnerable from the depredations of the modern word.
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