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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 knowledge about humankind. 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.
[..] The progressive extinction of this diversity is the price which Germany, as a nation, had to pay in order to make Germany, the state, so powerful.
Nationalism in this modern totalitarian form is pernicious because it has become the greatest enemy of the nation itself".
The minus points are because some of it was what caused me to take so long reading it. This is the second book in my reading of Malinowski.
In Argonauts of the Western Pacific he was entirely descriptive, deliberately eschewing any speculation on origins; in the essays here he is more theoretical.
His pages have become an almost indispensable link between the knowing of exotic and remote people with theoretical knowledge about humankind.
An important collection of three of his most famous essays, Magic, Science and Religion offers readers a set of concepts about religion, magic, science, rite and myth in the course of forming vivid impressions and understandings of the Trobrianders of New Guinea.20130118 For Social Anthropology 3400 (core requirement), Winter Q 2013. Not only is it hopelessly antiquated, factually incorrect, and infuriating in its condescending language (members of hunter/gatherer cultures are described as "savages" and "primitives"), but it's also as slow as molasses.
I enjoyed only the Baloma essay which deals with the Trobrianders' beliefs about the afterlife and the spirits of the dead. It's truly a piece of classical, old-school anthropology.
The second essay worth reading is the one about the anthropological perspective on war.
He points out that many myths tend to be justifications of social relationships, especially those which involve inequalities of wealth, privilege, or power; but in particular, he sees myths as justifying magical practices.
The third essay, "Baloma: The Spirits of the Dead in the Trobriand Islands" , written a decade earlier than the other two, is a description of beliefs about the spirits of the dead (baloma) and the afterlife in the Trobriand Islands, where he did most of his fieldwork.