Argonauts of the Western Pacific

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Argonauts of the Western Pacific is a 1922 ethnological work by Bronisław Malinowski. The book is about the Trobriand people who live on the small Kiriwana island chain northeast of the island of New Guinea. The book is part of Malinowski's trilogy on the Trobrianders; the other books include The Sexual Life of Savages in North-Western Melanesia (1929) and Coral Gardens and Their Magic (1935).

Argonauts is arguably the most "famous" book in the history of anthropology, and its influence on generations of anthropologists has been profound. The posthumous publication of Malinowski's diaries in 1967—in which he clearly revealed his distaste for many aspects of field experience— if anything deepened interest in Malinowski and Argonauts. Above all, the publication of Argonauts of the Western Pacific clearly distinguished the genre of ethnography from the growing documentation of foreign places that had been building since the mid-eighteenth century. Malinowski's opening chapter on "Subject, Method and Scope" drew a line, so to speak, around the work done by anthropologists, on the one hand, and a motley array (as he saw them) of travelers, missionaries and journalists, on the other. It also helped create a "narrative" for the history of anthropology that privileged fieldwork and "professional" methods, as opposed to what he portrayed as a grab-bag of methods (including colonial-style interviewing of "natives" far from their homes and social networks) employed before Argonauts was published.[citation needed]

External links[edit]