Argonauts of The Western Pacific
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. He states,
The Kula is "a big, inter-tribal relationship, uniting with definite social bonds a vast area and great numbers of people, binding them with definite ties of reciprocal obligations, making them follow minute rules and observations in a concerted manner - the Kula is a sociological mechanism of surpassing size and complexity, considering the level of culture on which we find it." (510)
Throughout Malinowski's book, he does a well job emphasizing cultural particularism through his studies of the Kula culture. During his time on the islands, he found the traditions of their culture that distinguished them as human beings. Everything the Kula do is socially acceptable in their society. Malinowski uses his ethnography skills to prompt our society to understand another's' throughout his lengthy book.