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Immaculately Tarnished: The Deterioration Of Bronislaw Malinowski’s Fame

569 words - 3 pages

A determined and relentless young man, Bronislaw Malinowski’s superior attitude and desire to surpass previous anthropological work drove him to be known as the founder of modern social anthropology. Growing up in Poland, a second class country, fueled Malinowski’s appetite to rank among the nobles of British society. Upon his death, he did receive such social status, however years later when his personal diaries were published, his fame was exploited. This paradox leads to many questions surrounding Malinowski’s ethnographical work.
First, one might consider if Malinowski’s desire to be accepted among British culture clouded his judgment of the natives. If he were so focused on completing the best possible work, would he embellish upon his experience to produce a better ethnography? This could not be the case as Malinowski redefined anthropology by adding a scientific aspect, even though he did so out of his own personal interest. This scientific addition quantified anthropology, thus minimizing any embellishment possible. Malinowski’s intelligence, especially in science and mathematics, put him at an advantage over other anthropologists. However, to obtain quantified data, this required Malinowski to enter savage territory and fully immerse himself into a new culture.
Given the details in Malinowski’s diaries, one must consider if his immersion into the culture was authentic. In his ethnography, it details many native traditions and activities which he partook in, but it is debatable whether he carried honest intentions. Many of the natives saw Malinowski as a great lover and this was also reflected in his personal diaries. His relationships and obsessions with women are pieces of evidence that prove his full immersion into the culture. By developing these relationships, he put forth his true maximum effort into becoming part of the...

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