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Eaton And Malinowski Essay

1137 words - 5 pages

Bronislaw Malinowski is a Pole who died in New Haven, Connecticut at the age of 58. He traveled to the Trobriand Islands, east of Papua New Guinea, to reform ethnographic work on the native islanders. In The Argonauts of the Pacific West Bronislaw Malinowski captured his ethnographic works for Anthropologists to read and take in, for years to come.
In his introduction, The Subject, The Method and The Scope of This Inquiry, he addresses his intentions of this ethnography and what he was studying over the course of his 5 year duration on the Island. He addresses the subject, which is the Kula (p. 2). The word Kula refers to the trade, or exchange, that takes place on the islands. Further ...view middle of the document...

Being Polish in a time where society is overran by the British and they essential “run the world” is going to make it difficult to not be British. Not only that, but this takes place during World War I were he can’t even home. So hes basically trapped on the Trobriand Islands with people he can only get so close to.
In chapter 2, The Natives of the Trobriand Islands, Malinowski is giving us an introduction of the people he’s staying with who he can’t get too close to. He starts of this chapter with a beautifully detailed scene, painting this jungle, almost like something other worldly. “Leaving the bronzed rocks and the dark jungle of the Amphletts for the present-” (p. 49). Later on in the page he brings you back to that place, “We now enter an opaque, greenish sea, whose monotony is broken only by a few sandbanks, some bare and awash, others with a few pandanus trees squatting on their air roots, high in the sand” (p. 49). As he brings this nearly unimaginable landscape to life you can feel his partial discomfort their. This of course, is in relation to the fact that he does fit in here. In the pictures that we were shown in class you knew exactly who Malinowski was and its not just because hes a caucasian male surrounded by a sea of dark skinned islanders. Its the clothing he wears and the objects he carries with him and the tent in which he stays.
In Tristes Tropiques, Claude Levi-Strauss brings to the attention of the reader that being an Ethnographer is hard. As an ethnographer you have to give up parts of your own society while taking on a new culture and then still find a way to be ethical and moral throughout your studies.
I feel like Dr. David Eaton’s piece, George and Cameroonian Brothers, that this was a constant struggle. Especially because Eaton is not performing his works on a tribal island which those less educated may consider “savage” or “barbaric” like Malinowski’s work with the Trobriand. Eaton is in the Republic of Congo during the mid 90’s. Here is this white man with money walking around an area of complete poverty trying to separate himself from the Congolese society so that he...

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