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Bronislaw Malinowski Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by

Buiness Anthropology

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.

Bronislaw Malinowski

Was a polish Anthro­pol­ogist (1884-­1942)
Regarded as the father and inventor of modern fieldwork
Most Important works: Argonauts of the Western Pacific (consi­dered the first modern ethnog­raphy) and Coral Gardens and Their Magic
Often considered one of anthro­pol­ogy's most skilled ethnog­rap­hers, especially because of the highly methodical and well theorized approach to the study of social systems
The goal of the anthro­pol­ogist, or ethnog­rapher, is "to grasp the native's point of view, his relation to life, to realize his vision of his world" (Argonauts of the Wester Pacific)

Background to Argonauts of the Western Pacific

In 1914 he was given a chance to travel to New Guinea accomp­anying anthro­pol­ogist R.R. Marett, but as World War I broke out and Malinowski was an Austrian subject, and thereby an enemy of the British common­wealth, he was unable to travel back to England. The Australian government noneth­eless provided him with permission and funds to undertake ethnog­raphic work within their territ­ories and Malinowski chose to go to the Trobriand Islands, in Melanesia where he stayed for several years, studying the indigenous culture. Upon his return to England after the war he published his main work Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922) which establ­ished him as one of the most important anthro­pol­ogists in Europe of that time.

The Kula (from the AWP)

The System -the kula is a system of socio-­eco­nomic exchange centered on two kinds of valuables, armshells and necklaces, with other minor valuables of secondary use. The two valuables must circulate against each other--the opposi­te-flow rule--­arm­shells being exchanged for necklaces or vice-v­ersa, but never armshells for armshells or necklaces for necklaces. Viewed from above, the armshells move counte­r-c­loc­kwise and the necklaces clockwise around a giant circle of islands and commun­ities.
The Nature of the Valuables- the valuables are system­-co­mmunal property and cannot be owned privately or kept in one's possession for very long. The valuables derive their principal social value and meaning from being the objects of kula exchange, having few other uses in the social lives of the transa­ctors or in their pursuit of an economic liveli­hood. Shells accumulate value as they circulate among partners around the ring. Armshells are ranked in value against each other as are necklaces inter-­ranked amongst each other, the highest of each type being named and having shell-­his­tories.
Principles of Exchange The valuables are exchanged according to the principle of recipr­ocity, like value for like value. The recipr­ocation of valuables must be delayed, not simult­aneous, transactor A going to B to seek a prestation shell x, B returning later to A for a recipr­ocating shell y, C coming to A to seek shell x, and later A going to C to get a recipr­ocating shell z. Actual exchanging takes place only between indivi­duals, though these indivi­duals often move en bloc as 'kula commun­ities' from one island or area to another.
Partners Kula exchanges occur between kula partners, indivi­duals who are, unless serious breaches take place, in fixed lifelong relati­onships with each others. With rare except­ions, only men can be kula partic­ipants. A man is brought into the kula at adulthood by a kinsman, usually a father or mother's brother. A man may have a minimum of 2 partners, one on either geogra­phical side, or multiple sets of partners up to large numbers such as 100 or more as in the case of local leaders. A man's partners normally come from the kula commun­ities to his proximate geogra­phical left and right, though they sometimes come from within his own kula community. Partne­rships are linked in chains around the ring, but a man exchanges only with partners to his proximate left and right, not with everyone around the entire chain of which he is one link. Kula partic­ipants solicit particular shells from their partners with prelim­inary gifts of valued items, which should be themselves ultimately recipr­ocated. Transa­ctors do not haggle with their partners over relative value in exchanges
Other Features Men gain consid­erable prestige from partic­ipating in the kula. A large amount of utilit­arian trade in essential and luxury resources takes place on kula expedi­tions, though this kind of exchanging is concep­tually and behavi­orally separate from kula exchange to the partic­ipants. Kula partners do not trade or barter in a utilit­arian sense with each other. Except in minor details, the transa­ctional rules of kula exchange are the same all around the ring.
What was so special about the kula?