By Bronislaw Malinowski
Bronislaw Malinowski’s pathbreaking Argonauts of the Western Pacific is without delay an in depth account of alternate within the Melanesian islands and a manifesto of a modernist anthropology. Malinowski argued that the objective of which the ethnographer shouldn't ever lose sight is ‘to seize the native’s viewpoint, his relation to existence, to understand his imaginative and prescient of his world.’ via vibrant evocations of Kula lifestyles, together with the construction and launching of canoes, fishing expeditions and the position of fable and magic among the Kula humans, Malinowski brilliantly describes an inter-island procedure of alternate - from presents from father to son to swapping fish for yams - round which a complete neighborhood revolves. A vintage of anthropology that did a lot to set up the primacy of painstaking fieldwork over the sooner anecdotal experiences of commute writers, newshounds and missionaries, it's a compelling perception right into a international now principally misplaced from view. With a brand new foreword by means of Adam Kuper.
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Extra resources for Argonauts of the Western Pacific (Routledge Classics)
Yet the survival character of an act is expressed in nothing so well as in the concomitant behaviour, in the way in which it is carried out. Take any 56 example from our own culture, whether it be the pomp and pageantry of a state ceremony, or a picturesque custom kept up by street urchins, its “outline” will not tell you whether the rite flourishes still with full vigour in the hearts of those who perform it or assist at the performance or whether they regard it as almost a dead thing, kept alive for tradition’s sake.
And he will also be able to bring all this home to his readers in a clear, convincing manner. Again, in this type of work, it is good for the Ethnographer sometimes to put aside camera, note book and pencil, and to join in himself in what is going on. He can take part in the natives’ games, he can follow them on their visits and walks, sit down and listen and share in their conversations. I am not certain if this is equally easy for everyone—perhaps the Slavonic nature is more plastic and more naturally savage than that of Western Europeans—but though the degree of success varies, the attempt is possible for everyone.
An ethnographic diary, carried on systematically throughout the course of one’s work in a district would be the ideal instrument for this sort of study. And if, side by side with the normal and typical, the ethnographer carefully notes the slight, or the more pronounced deviations from it, he will be able to indicate the two extremes within which the normal moves. In observing ceremonies or other tribal events, such, for instance as the scene depicted in Plate IV, it is necessary, not only to note down those occurrences and details which are prescribed by tradition and custom to be the essential course of the act, but also the Ethnographer ought to record carefully and precisely, one after the other, the actions of the actors and of the spectators.
Argonauts of the Western Pacific (Routledge Classics) by Bronislaw Malinowski