Argonauts of the Western Pacific: An Account of Native by Bronislaw Malinowski

By Bronislaw Malinowski

First released in 1922, this vintage textual content examines the large and complicated buying and selling procedure maintained through the Trobriand Islanders. whereas the most topic is economics and social association, the ability of magic, mythology and folklore also are tested.

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Extra resources for Argonauts of the Western Pacific: An Account of Native Enterprise and Adventure in the Archipelagoes of Melanesian New Guinea

Sample text

But the two functions are separate, and in actual research they have to be separated both in time and conditions of work. As always happens when scientific interest turns towards and begins to labour on a field so far only prospected by the curiosity of amateurs, Ethnology has introduced law and order into what seemed chaotic and freakish. It has transformed for us the sensational, wild and unaccountable world of “savages” into a number of well ordered communities, governed by law, behaving and thinking according to consistent principles.

The obligation is not to enumerate a few examples SUBJECT, METHOD AND SCOPE 11 only, but to exhaust as far as possible all the cases within reach; and, on this search for cases, the investigator will score most whose mental chart is clearest. But, whenever the material of the search allows it, this mental chart ought to be transformed into a real one; it ought to materialise into a diagram, a plan, an exhaustive, synoptic table of cases. Long since, in all tolerably good modern books on natives, we expect to find a full list or table of kinship terms, which includes all the data relative to it, and does not just pick out a few strange and anomalous relationships or expressions.

For none of them lives right in a native village, except for very short periods, and everyone has his own business, which takes up a considerable part of his time. Moreover, if, like a trader or a missionary or an official he enters into active relations with the native, if he has to transform or influence or make use of him, this makes a real, unbiassed, impartial observation impossible, and precludes all-round sincerity, at least in the case of the missionaries and officials. Living in the village with no other business but to follow native life, one sees the customs, ceremonies and transactions over and over again, one has examples of their beliefs as they are actually lived through, and the full body and blood of actual native life fills out soon the skeleton of abstract constructions.

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