Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kula in Argonauts of the Western Pacific( 1922) by Malinowski

The Book 'Argonauts of the Western Pacific' is about one set of activities of the Trobriand Islanders which they call Kula.They and the inhabitants  of some neighbouring islands form a kind of league for the exchange of certain objects,long necklace of red shell and bracelets of white shell.

In the system of exchange the necklace pass through communities one way round the circuit of islands and the bracelets pass the opposite way round.These objects have no practical value but only a ritual and prestige value the prestige consisting in the renown a man gets by receiving,possessing and then passing on particularly esteemed objects.


Those men who take part in these exchanges have partners in the islands they visit.The exchanges take place with formality and decorum and there must be no haggling ;though when the ritual exchanges are completed ordinary commercial transactions,bargaining for food or articles of particular use take place.The kula is the system of ritual exchange within which the necklaces and bracelets go round the island communities in everlasting circuit.

To carry out these exchanges the chiefs of the villages and groups of nearby villages organize large trading expeditions.This means the preparation of canoes,nautical knowledge of magical spells to aid against the chances of the adventure and knowledge of tradition and myth to guide the Argonauts in their voyages and negotiations.

Malinowski has given detailed accounts of magic and myth to describe the background and how the natives cultivate their gardens what is the social position of their women,how they construct and sail their canoes and so on.

To Malinowski a social system is a succession of activities  or events  and not a set of abstractions.To go on an expedition,Trobriand Islanders make canoes.In making canoes they utter magical spells.These spells have stories or myths,accounting for their origin.They also belong to someone by inheritance from his maternal uncle.In the making of canoe and in planning the expedition there is organization of labour and direction by the chiefs.The chiefs have authority largely because they are richer than commoners.They are richer because they have bigger gardens.

To Malinowski all these different activities form a system because each is dependent on all the others  and the functions of each is the part it plays in the total set of activities which have a direct or indirect bearing on the exchange of the ritual objects of kula.

According to Evans Pritchard Malinowski failed to see what is perhaps the most significant feature of the kula the bringing together through the acceptance of common ritual values of  politically autonomous communities.Also comparison  between the social life of a people described  and social life of other people similarly portrayed  is limited to assessment of cultural similarities and divergences and cannot be of structural kind for which abstraction is required.

No comments:

Labels

Aboriginal (1) Acheulian tool (1) Age-Groups (1) Alliance (1) Animatism (1) anthropology (1) Anthropology of Art (1) Ashrama system (1) Associations (1) Attributes of Culture (1) autochthony (1) avoidance (1) Basics (1) bio ethics (1) biological adaptation (1) Birsa Movement (1) Bongaism (1) branches of anthropology (1) Bride Wealth (1) Cargo Cults (1) Castes among Muslims (1) Catholics (1) civilization (1) Clifford Geertz (2) Cognitive Anthropology (1) Compadrazgo (1) Cope's law (1) Cross Cousin (1) cultural anthrology (1) Cultural Borrowings (1) cultural citizenship (1) Cultural Ecology (1) Cultural imperialism (1) Cultural Materialism (1) cultural rights (1) culture (2) Culture and Motive (1) Darwinism (1) Demographic Transition (1) Derek Freeman (1) descent (2) Deviance (1) Diffusionism (1) DNA (1) DNA Technology (1) dollo's law (1) Dormitories (1) Dowry (1) Durkheim (1) Early Human Ancestors (1) Eco System Concept (1) Ecological Anthropology (1) Edward Sapir (1) emic/etic (1) Endogamy (1) Environment (1) Eskimo System of Kinship (1) Ethnicity (1) Ethnocentric (1) ethnoecology (1) Ethnographic Monographs (1) ethnography (1) Evans Pritchard (2) Evolutionism (1) Exogamy (1) Extended family (1) family (2) Female Genital Mutilation (1) Feminism (1) field studies (1) fieldwork (1) Flake Culture (1) folklore (1) fossil (1) Functional Theories on Primitive Religion (1) Gause's law (1) gender bias (1) Gender expectations (1) Generalized Exchange (1) Genetic Adaptation (1) Genetic Change (1) Genetic Screening (1) Genetics (1) Genetics and its Relevance to Physical Anthropology (1) George Peter Murdock (1) Hardy-Weinberg Law of Equilibrium (1) Hawaiian System of Kinship (1) Hominids (1) Homo Erectus (1) Homo Habilis (1) Homo Hierarchies (1) honor killing (1) Human Evolution (1) human rights (1) Incest prohibition (1) Independent Invention (1) indian anthropology (1) Indigenous People (1) Indus Valley Civilization (1) Intellectual Property Rights (1) Iroquois System of Kinship (1) J.C Frazer (1) jajmani system (1) Jean Baudrillard (1) Jean Dreze (1) Joint Family (1) Joking Relationship (1) Julian Steward (1) kin (1) Kin Behaviour (1) kindred (1) law (1) Leslie White (1) Levirate (1) Lucy Mair (1) magic science (1) Mandelbaum (1) Marcel Mauss (1) Marett (1) Margaret Mead (1) Marxism and Anthropology (1) Mendelian Principle (1) Michel Foucault (1) Microliths (1) Middle Palaeolithic Culture (1) Migration and tribal communities (1) modernization (1) multiculturalism (1) Mysore (1) myth (1) Nadel (1) Neanderthal Man (1) Non Unilineal or Cognatic Systems (1) Notes and Queries (1) Nuclear Family (1) Nuer (1) Organic evolution (2) origin of state (1) origins (1) Oscar Lewis (1) Paleo River (1) Parallel Cousin (1) Participatory Rapid Assessment (1) Patterns of Culture (1) Pedigree Analysis (1) Polyandry (1) Polygyny (1) Population Genetics (1) Pre-history (1) PreHarrapan settlements (1) primitive (1) profane (1) Proto- history (1) Purushartha (1) Race (2) racism (1) Radcliffe-Brown (1) Recombinant DNA Technology (1) Reflexivity (1) Reinventing Anthropology (1) Religion (2) Religion and science (1) religious beliefs (1) research (1) Restricted Exchange (1) Rhina (1) rig vedic society (1) Robert Redfield (1) Rules of Residence (1) Ruth Benedict (3) sacred (1) Sacred Complex (1) Sacrifice (1) San hunter-gatherers (1) sanction (1) Scheduled Areas (1) scope of anthropology (1) Secret Societies (1) sex-gender (1) Sir James George Frazer (1) Social Institutions (1) Social Network (1) Social-Psychological Perspectives (1) society (1) sorcery (1) Sororate (1) state (1) Status (1) Status of women in tribal society (1) Stebbins (1) stone age communities (1) stone tools (1) Style of Life (1) symbolic culture (1) Symbolism (1) Syncretism (1) Synthetic Perspectives (1) Taboo (1) Teknonymy (1) terraces (1) Textual Approach and Contextual Approach (1) The Golden Bough (1) Thomas Malthus (1) tobacco (1) Totem (1) Trade and Barter (1) Tradition (1) Transactionalism (1) Tribal Religion (1) Tribal Sub plan (1) tribe (1) Upper Palaeolithic (1) Upper Palaeolithic Period (1) urban revolution (1) Urbanization (1) witchcraft (1) world's population 2012 (1)

Popular Posts

Blog Archive

Subscribe Now: bloglines

Subscribe in Bloglines

Flipkart.com