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Argonauts of the Western Pacific

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  1,126 ratings  ·  25 reviews
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 kn ...more
Paperback, 527 pages
Published March 1st 1984 by Waveland Press (first published April 21st 1961)
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3.72  · 
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 ·  1,126 ratings  ·  25 reviews

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Jenny (Reading Envy)
This was a cornerstone of my Readings in Ethnography course in graduate school. Basically a classic of anthropology that also had an impact on the fields of folklore and ethnomusicology. And happens to be set in islands off the coast of but belonging to Papua New Guinea!
Mar 15, 2013 rated it liked it
The rhetorical style of the time Malinowski was writing makes this classic a tough read today, but for the Oceanist, or anyone interested in economic exchange, this is a must-read. Accompany it with Reo Fortune's Sorcerers of Dobu, and follow it up with Annette Weiner's Women of Value, Men of Renown, and Susanna Kuehling's Dobu.
Aug 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Malinowski constituye un ejemplo de cómo hacer etnografía, es un manual sin duda de cómo realizar esta labor. Lo recomiendo para cualquier antropólogo.
Czarny Pies
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those highly interested in Kula exchange.
Argonauts of the Western Pacific is an anthrological monograph on Kula exchange, a form of ritual gift giving that was practiced in the Trobriand Islands off Eastern New Guinea at the time when Bronislaw Malinowski conducted his field work in the location between 1914 and 1920. I consider the work to be brilliant. However, you should understand that I have never taken even one undergraduate course in Anthropology and had read only one other anthropological or ethnographic monograph prior to read ...more
James F
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
April 11

34. Bronislaw Malinowski, Argonauts of the Western Pacific: An Account of Native Enterprise and Adventure in the Archipelagoes of Melanesian New Guinea [1922] 526 pages

An account largely of the "Kula Ring", a complex and apparently non-utilitarian system of exchanges of shell armlets and necklaces among the islands of Melanesia, this book is a classic of ethnological literature. Using the kula as a focal point, the book discusses canoe-making and navigation, more purely economic trade, m
Oct 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
i liked this much more than i intended to. there's more at work here than some nasty imperialist vouyerisum. surprisingly, malinowski's project seems to be an earnest reflection on the (seemingly universal) economic presumptions undergirding his own value system. being careful not to name it socialism, malinowksi delicately charts a unique form of social and economic organization that defies standard definition. writing on the brink of world war, you see a man far away from home, less interested ...more
funk bonds
Jul 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the KULA!
I had to read this book as an undergraduate in Anthropology in the mid-90's. This has to be one of THE most horrible ethnographies I have ever been forced to read. We read it in order to compare it to a later ethnography written about the Trobriander Islanders, like 50 years later.

For the love of EVERYTHING on Earth, DO NOT READ THIS BOOK. Not even if your professor wants you to. I am hoping that young aspiring anthropologists are no longer tortured with this pile of racist and sexist, colonizer
split zalv
Apr 17, 2018 rated it liked it
desriptive and detailed account about the KULA ceremony by the Trobrianders.
Loukia Aydag
Apr 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Read this for my Reading Ethnography Anthropology Course and it was intriguing but wasnt too keen on it.
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
The writing is perfectly serviceable, though without any distinguishing characteristics. It's like those MFA bores all are.
Apr 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
One of the first books (since starting goodreads) that I didn't finish not because I didn't like it, I just could get my head around it as the mercury rose. I wish I could say I was committed enough to read anthropological theory in hot weather, but by halfway through, I couldn't concentrate enough to know what was going on. So, shelved until fall!
Jul 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
Weirdly dehistoricized! Malinowski keeps referring to how things were done "in olden days," and seems to attribute many of the changes to the white man's influence–pearling more profitable than fishing, decreased intertribal violence. But there's no real effort to interrogate the colonialist enterprise or its operations; mostly, it's just a bummer that things ain't like they used to be.
Dec 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: uni

Revolutionary for its time, in the way it regarded the importance of the work "on the field" as well as the foundamental concept of laying down one's methods of research. It is in many ways outdated now, but can still definitely give several interesting sparks for reflection.
Theresa Malloy
Feb 10, 2016 rated it liked it
We read excerpts of this in the ethnography classes then read the diary. If you delve into Malinowski, make sure you take a look at his personal take on the people he observed. Another man who shocked the world by being human and not so objective.
Thom Dunn
First published 1922. A great file-cabinet of a book deserving of an honored place among the classic anthropology texts.
Apr 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
Speaking of leading critical minds to water...
you can cry colonialism all you want. I still enjoy this immensly.
Jun 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: anthropology
Lovely read ~ fascinating descriptions of the Kula district and trading customs/languages, its people and diversity.
Jun 10, 2009 rated it liked it
Argonauts of the Western Pacific by Bronislaw Malinowski (1984)
Mar 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
made the mistake of reading his diary. now his work can't get past the thing I've learn about him...
Eli Jacobs
Jun 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
ethnography is very rich and the introduction is an important description of the way ethnography was (attempted to be) done for much of the twentieth century.
Fabio Bertino
Aug 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: antropologia
Non so come ho fatto a dimenticare di aggiungere questo libro! "Superato" per molti aspetti ma imprescindibile nella storia dell'antropologia!
Mike Mena
Jul 25, 2015 rated it did not like it
Basically an anthro classic I'm reading for grad school. A crucial book, but it is slow and boring. A product of its age.
Chris Gager
Oct 09, 2012 rated it liked it
I must have read some Malinowski when I was in college and an Anthro major. This one rings a bell but I doubt that I read it. Maybe some day.
Jul 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ethnographies
Never *technically* finished it, but man was it ever inspiring.
Alissa Funderburk
rated it liked it
Feb 25, 2015
Thomas Kuhn
rated it really liked it
Dec 04, 2012
Bubo  Bubonis
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Mar 27, 2013
Matthew Holley
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Dec 13, 2013
Dana Léw
rated it it was ok
Jul 15, 2018
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Bronisław Kasper Malinowski (IPA: [ˌmaliˈnɔfski]; April 7, 1884 – May 16, 1942) was a Polish anthropologist widely considered to be one of the most important anthropologists of the twentieth century because of his pioneering work on ethnographic fieldwork, with which he also gave a major contribution to the study of Melanesia, and the study of reciprocity.
“Again, they have no idea of what could be called the evolution of the world or the evolution of society; that is, they do not look back towards a series of successive changes, which happened in nature or in humanity, as we do. We, in our religious and scientific outlook alike, know that earth ages and that humanity ages, and we think of both in these terms; for them, both are eternally the same, eternally youthful.” 4 likes
“It is therefore not going beyond what is fully granted by facts, to maintain that a general loss of interest in life, of the joie de vivre, the cutting of all the bonds of intense interest, which bind members of a human community to existence, will result in their giving up the desire to live altogether, and that therefore they will fall an easy prey to any disease, as well as fail to multiply.” 0 likes
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