1 Section of Health Services Research, Department of Public Health, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet2 Undervisning - FSV, Department of Public Health, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet3 SAXO-Institute - Archaeology, Ethnology, Greek & Latin, History, Faculty of Humanities, Københavns Universitet4 SAXO-Institute - Archaeology, Ethnology, Greek & Latin, History, Faculty of Humanities, Københavns Universitet
: This article investigates the way in which the concept of tradition was evoked in the colonial policies in nineteenth-century Greenland. The author argues that ‘tradition’ provided colonial officials in Greenland with a strategy that enabled them to make fundamental changes appear as a restoration of a Greenlandic culture en route to its own destruction. The colonial authorities claimed that the establishments of new institutions were facilitating a return to the traditional practices of the past. Further the author argues that reforms effectuated in the latter part of the nineteenth century reflect a fundamental shift in the rationality behind the colonial project in Greenland. This analytical point is reached through the deployment of the theoretical concept colonial governmentality. Following the work of scholars such as Nicholas Thomas, David Scott and Gyan Prakash, it is argued that a significant shift toward social engineering techniques (of governance) happened in the period. The new techniques were employed in order to structure of the life world of the Greenlanders, and ultimately shape their individuality. Finally the article draws attention to the short and long term consequences of the political utilization of tradition.