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Argonauts of the Western Pacific
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Top Customer Reviews
I assigned this book to a junior-level college class in ethnography, but they weren't as pleased with it as I was. Many of the students understood the importance of the book, but most also found it tedious, dull, repetitive, hard to follow, and definitely too long.
Bronislaw Malinowski. London, George Routedge & Sons, LTD.
New York: E.P. Dutton & Co. 1922
Malinowski's book is clearly written, in great detail of his experiences on the Trobriand Islands as an ethnographer. He introduces the reader into an explanation of how he is going to go about his findings, through experiments and observations of the growing cultures on the Trobriand Islands, which are located off the southern coast of New Guinea. The ethnographer begins by asking the reader to imagine himself as a "beginner," with no direction or help on where to begin his journey. He is trying express what it was like for him during the beginning of his journey on the islands. However, Malinowski explains how overtime he becomes more comfortable with his surroundings, which enables him to further his findings.
Malinowski's book is based mainly on his discoveries of the traditions of the Trobriand culture. He goes into detail of his observations of the Kula, who are the Trobriand natives. He recognizes their importance of exchanging valuables, or vaygu'a, through the male partners. In their culture, the two types of valuables of armshells and necklaces must be exchanged against each other for the main purpose of circulating around the Kula ring with the importance of relationship. Although, as Malinowski explains, it is not so simple, rather it is a very complex ritual.Read more ›
It could be considered as a bit long, but it is full of stimulating insights. I'd like to mention, among others, the introduction on the methods of field inquiry, the different categories of gifts, the role of magic, the disappearance of primitive cultures under European influence (already in 1916...) but there's much, much more.
I warmly recommend this book to anybody who wants to get an (almost direct) insight into primitive culture ("la pensée sauvage"...).
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Any aspiring anthropologist should be happy to include this book in his or her collection. While it might seem a bit dated, one can always glean something important from the past.Published 16 months ago by Jack
Was bought used through amazon.com and it is in the condition that it was described but there is a large name written on the top of the book that was not noted in the descriptionPublished on July 31, 2011 by Grimes