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Argonauts of the Western Pacific [Paperback]

Bronislaw Malinowski , James George Frazer
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Paperback, March 1984 --  
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Book Description

March 1984 0881330841 978-0881330847 Reprint
The founding document of economic anthropology! Bronislaw Malinowski, one of the all-time great anthropologists of the world, had a talent for bringing together in single comprehension the warm reality of human living with the cool abstractions of science. His pages have become an almost indispensable link between the knowing of exotic and remote people with theoretical knowledge about humankind. This volume--originally published in 1922--can be considered the founding document of economic anthropology, and remains the best one to read. It emphasizes the great significance of primitive economics by singling out the notable exchange system of the Trobriand Islands for special consideration. Although the main theme is economic, constant reference is made in this milestone of anthropological research and interpretation to social organization, life and meaning, the power of magic, and to mythology and folklore.

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Review

`Not only ethnographers and economists will delight in this book. The author's infinitely careful scientific method makes the material he has collected so completely trustworthy ... we commend it to all.' - The Spectator --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

Titles of related interest from Waveland Press: Bohannan- van der Elst, Asking and Listening: Ethnography as Personal Adaptation (ISBN 0881339873); Malinowski, Magic, Science and Religion and Other Essays (ISBN 0881336572); and Pomponio, Seagulls Don't Fly Into the Bush: Cultural Identity and Development in Melanesia (ISBN 1577661540).

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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4.0 out of 5 stars A classic Jan. 6 2002
Format:Paperback
This is a real classic in the history of anthropology, published in 1922, and unlike another classic from the same decade, Coming of Age in Samoa, it has worn well, too. This is where modern ethnography begins. Malinowski tells us how to do ethnography, in no uncertain terms, as he explains Trobriand kula expeditions. I found it to be a delightful read and I was continually amazed at the intellectual sophistication of his work, given its age. I believe I learned more about ethnography from this book than from any other I have ever read, and I have been a professional anthropologist for 30 years. It is, I must warn you, a long book, and I doubt that many will be willing to read it from stem to stern, but I think every anthropologist should study the introduction at least. It is perhaps the "sacred charter" for the ethnographic project, complete with felicitous phrases such as the "ethnographer's magic," "the imponderabilia of actual life," "the native's point of view," and "the hold life has." In addition, it is certainly essential reading for anyone interested in magic, because it is as much about magic as it is about kula exchange.
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential work in this history of anthropology Jan. 27 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Don't be misled by the occasional discouraged student, this is an important work that must be read by someone seeking to understand the nature and history of the social sciences.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic Jan. 6 2002
By W. Wedenoja - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a real classic in the history of anthropology, published in 1922, and unlike another classic from the same decade, Coming of Age in Samoa, it has worn well, too. This is where modern ethnography begins. Malinowski tells us how to do ethnography, in no uncertain terms, as he explains Trobriand kula expeditions. I found it to be a delightful read and I was continually amazed at the intellectual sophistication of his work, given its age. I believe I learned more about ethnography from this book than from any other I have ever read, and I have been a professional anthropologist for 30 years. It is, I must warn you, a long book, and I doubt that many will be willing to read it from stem to stern, but I think every anthropologist should study the introduction at least. It is perhaps the "sacred charter" for the ethnographic project, complete with felicitous phrases such as the "ethnographer's magic," "the imponderabilia of actual life," "the native's point of view," and "the hold life has." In addition, it is certainly essential reading for anyone interested in magic, because it is as much about magic as it is about kula exchange.
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.
18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential work in this history of anthropology Jan. 27 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Don't be misled by the occasional discouraged student, this is an important work that must be read by someone seeking to understand the nature and history of the social sciences.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Argonauts of the Western Pacific Oct. 2 2012
By Madeline Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Argonauts of The Western Pacific
Bronislaw Malinowski. London, George Routedge & Sons, LTD.
New York: E.P. Dutton & Co. 1922

MADELINE SMITH
Fairfield University

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.
5.0 out of 5 stars A true classic May 22 2014
By Narzul Patrick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Today, many books on ethnology are written by "theoreticians" who have not spent much time in the field and who rely on the work of others (being French, I think, for example, about Claude Levi-Strauss or Alain Testart). You have to believe them when they quote field anthropologists and, for this reason, it is refreshing to go back to basics and read books like this one.
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"...).
0 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One problem July 31 2011
By Grimes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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 description
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