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Argonauts of the Western Pacific

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Language  English
Media type  Print
Author  Bronisław Malinowski
OCLC  647026285
3.7/5 Goodreads

Publication date  1922
Originally published  1922
Subject  Ethnography
Argonauts of the Western Pacific t2gstaticcomimagesqtbnANd9GcTrZ776cPJSMgi63A
Series  Studies in economics and political science, no. 65.
Publisher  London, G. Routledge & Sons; New York, E.P. Dutton & Co.
Followed by  The Sexual Life of Savages in North-Western Melanesia, Coral Gardens and Their Magic

Similar  The Sexual Life of Savages in North Western Melanesia, Coral Gardens and Their Magic, Sex and Repression in Savage Society

Argonauts of the Western Pacific, subtitled An account of native enterprise and adventure in the Archipelagoes of Melanesian New Guinea, is a 1922 ethnological work by Bronisław Malinowski, which has had enormous impact on the ethnographic genre. The book is about the Trobriand people who live on the small Kiriwana island chain northeast of the island of New Guinea. It is part of Malinowski's trilogy on the Trobrianders, including The Sexual Life of Savages in North-Western Melanesia (1929) and Coral Gardens and Their Magic (1935).

Contents

Overview

The book consists of twenty-two chapters divided into six distinct sections. General summaries of each section are included below.

  • Introduction: Malinowski's famous general statement of the aims of ethnography
  • Chapters I-III: setting the scene and sketching the structure; from the broad survey of kula District (I) to intensive fieldwork (II-III); "native" life (II), structural overview of the kula (III)
  • Chapters IV-XVI: the kula by example; "a consecutive narrative" from the earliest preparations of canoe-building through extended voyaging from Sinaketa to Dobu and back
  • Chapters XVII-XVIII: on magic and language
  • Chapters XIX-XXI: three permutations of basic kula pattern: the inland kula (XIX), a Kiriwina-Kitava expedition (XX), and "the remaining branches and offshoots of the kula" (XXI)
  • Chapter XXII: a summary statement of "the meaning of the kula"
  • Development

    Argonauts of the Western Pacific developed from anthropological research which Bronislaw Malinowski described as "off the verandah". Unlike the armchair anthropology of previous researchers, this method was characterized by participant observation: informal interviews, direct observation, participation in the life of the group, collective discussions, analyses of personal documents produced within the group, self-analysis, results from activities undertaken off or online, and life-histories.

    Impact

    Considered the first modern ethnography, Argonauts of the Western Pacific redefined the ethnographic genre. Adam Kuper, in his seminal 1973 book on British social anthropology, begins his analysis with Malinowski's status as the founder of the discipline:

    "Malinowski has a strong claim to being the founder of the profession of social anthropology in Britain, for he established its distinctive apprenticeship -- intensive fieldwork in an exotic community."

    Many other anthropologists also trace the fieldwork mandate back to Malinowski, including Murray Wax:

    "In the final analysis, the major credit for discovering the technique of intensive personal fieldwork among a single people must go to Bronislaw Malinowski (1884-1942). His researches among the Trobriand Islanders during the years 1916-18 yielded a series of epochal volumes which revolutionized the content and practice of anthropology."

    Today, Argonauts of the Western Pacific is the archetypal account of anthropologists' "following the people" method of collecting information for a multi-sited ethnography.

    References

    Argonauts of the Western Pacific Wikipedia


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