Lecture 4 1/18/2013 10:30:00 AM
Bronislaw Malinowski (1884-1942)
Fieldwork and participant observation
Stayed 2 years among the Trobiand people
Learned their language
Interacted in their everyday life.
Learning language in important.
Malinowski Classical Ethnography
Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922)
Anthropologists in fieldwork:
Take field notes
Records audio material such as interviews, myths and songs.
Why was his approach revolutionary at the time?
o It went against the current anthropology ways and evolutions
o He saw the flaws in anthropology for those two reasons.
Worked with materials collected by others (missionaries, traders,
explorers, or colonial officials.)
Incomplete and decontextualized information
Focus on the sensationalist and the spectacular
Satisfy westerns expectation on the “exotic other:
Evolutionism of the 19 century
A problematic theory that stipulates that all human groups follow
the same stages of cultural evolution
All human groups and aligned in a single evolution line from the
most primitive to most civilized.
Anthropologists would place themselves at the top of the
evolutionary scale, and everyone else below them. Evolutionist theory:
Anthropologists start criticizing tis theory at the beginning of the
In anthropology today, this theory is considered obsolete and very
At the beginning of the 20 thcentury, the methodology of fieldwork
allowed anthropologists, such as Malinowski, to criticize evolutionist
Do we still do the same field work that Malinowski did now?
o The way of doing fieldwork changed through time:
o From a positivistic approach to a reflexive approach.
It is important to contextualize the anthropologists and their historical and
Malinowski: positivist approach
Annette Weiner: reflexive approach