Dr. Charles F. Urbanowicz / Professor of Anthropology
Department of Anthropology
California State University, Chico
Chico, California 95929-0400
530-898-6220 [Office]; 530-898-6192 [Dept.] FAX: 530-898-6824
e-mail: / home page:

29 October 1968 (1)

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© [All Rights Reserved.] This brief item is based on a Graduate Seminar (ANTH 507) taken at the University of Oregon in the Fall Quarter of 1968. The original paper was entitled "Notes" and was dated October 29, 1968 and was originally placed on the WWW on December 30, 1998; slight cosmetic changes were made in April and July 2001.

As an historical footnote: I was born in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1942, graduated high school in 1960, and after attending New York University in 1960-1961, I enlisted for four years in the United States Air Force (1961-1965), was Honorably Discharged, and eventually received the B.A. in Sociology/Anthropology in 1967 from Western Washington State College (now Western Washington University). I began Graduate Work in Anthropology at the University of Oregon in September 1967 and received the M.A. in Anthropology in 1969 and in July 1970 I went (with my wife) to do fieldwork in the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga and received the Ph.D. in 1972: for a complete résumé, please see I taught in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota in 1972-1973 and joined the faculty of California State University, Chico, in August 1973 and have been happily here ever since!

This October 1968 Graduate Seminar paper (written in my second year of graduate school when I was twenty-six years of age) still, I believe, survives the test of time. The text is unchanged from the original 1968 Graduate Seminar presentation except for the the specific additions at the end for the ANTH 296 class at CSU, Chico, as well as the various WWW sites incorporated throughout and/or included at the end of this paper.

There are some points concerning Bronislaw Malinowski (1884-1942) and Marcel Mauss (1872-1950) which should be brought to your attention.

In 1922 (Argonauts of the Western Pacific) Malinowski wrote of the kula operating in the region of the Trobriand Islands. He called it a "novel type" of ethnological fact, a form of exchange which was half-commercial and half-ceremonial (page 510). The exchange of the kula valuables, the vaygua (mwali and souvali), took place between established male partners on an inter-tribal basis. This kula partnership established mutual duties and obligations between the men, which varied "with the distance between their villages and their reciprocal status" (page 91). Only a limited number of men in a district could carry on this exchange and Malinowski does not give explicit facts as to why this was so and who the men were. However, it is important to note that the exchange of the kula variables was not restricted to any one group of people: chiefs and commoners could partake of the kula transactions and Malinowski does point out that "The number of partners a man has varies with his rank and importance" (page 91). Wearing of the kula variables was not restricted to men and women and children on occasion could wear the mwali and souvali (pages 87-88). In 1922 Malinowski did not give an elaborate theoretical assessment of the "meaning" of the kula, merely providing a descriptive summary of kula activities. He points out in 1935 (Coral Gardens And Their Magic, Vol. I: 456) that were he to evaluate the integral function of the kula, he would attempt to show that for the Trobriand Islands (at least) the kula as a cultural activity "is to a large extent a surrogate and substitute for head-hunting and war."

In writing of "gifts" in the Trobriand Islands in 1922, Malinowski sought to establish a seven-fold classification of Trobriand gifts, payments, and commercial transactions. Although Malinowski was the proponent of grasping and presenting the point of view of the native it is surprising to read Malinowski on "pure gifts" (page 178): "The natives undoubtedly would not think of free gifts as forming one class, as being all of the same nature."

In 1925, Mauss [Essai sur le Don] criticized Malinowski for his inadequate presentation of the theory behind the kula activities and for his views on gifts in the Trobriand Islands. The mapula was the specific payment that Mauss criticized Malinowski about.

In 1926 (Crime And Custom In Savage Society) Malinowski admitted his earlier mistakes as presented in Argonauts, and said that he tore the "pure gifts" out of context! (page 40). Malinowski acknowledged his "distinguished friend M. Mauss" and his criticism of pure gifts, but states that he had realized his mistakes before readings Mauss' strictures. In 1932 in his "Introduction" to Reo Fortune's Sorcerers of Dobu, Malinowski again points out his own theoretical inadequacy concerning Trobriand gifts presented in Argonauts and again accepts Mauss' 1925 criticism unreservedly.

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Added for ANTH 296:

"The ability to understand very different kinds of people is often related to an innate lack of set values and standards. It is no accident that a great novelist like Balzac [1799-1850], who could penetrate and portray with impartial accuracy the character of bankers, prostitutes, and artists, was a relativist of psychopathic proportions. It is also no accident that the most successful field worker in the history of anthropology, Bronislaw Malinowski, was the most eccentric and controversial figure ever to enter the field of anthropology [stress added]" (Abraham Kardiner and Edward Preble, 1961, They Studied Man, page 140).

SOURCE: Abraham Kardiner and Edward Preble, 1961, They Studied Man, page 140

"Functionalism in anthropology is generally divided into two schools of thought, each associated with a key personality. Psychological functionalism is linked to Bronislaw Malinowski (1884-1942). ... The second school, structural functionalism, is associated with A.R. Radcliffe-Brown (1881-1955). ... Bronislaw Malinowski was trained in the physical sciences and received a Ph.D. in physics and mathematics. Despite this training, Malinowski was captivated by Sir James Frazer's [1854-1941] book The Golden Bough, and in 1910 he enrolled in the London School of Economics (LSE), where he studied anthropology." (R. Jon McGee and Richard L. Warms, 1996, Anthropological Theory: An Introductory History, page 154).

"Bronislaw Malinowski inspired strong reactions from people, and it is clear he wanted it that way. There are no tepid accounts of Malinowski; they are either hot or cold. Anthropologists tend to evaluate Malinowski on three grounds--as a fieldworker, as a theoretician, or as a personality. As a fieldworker there is near unanimity: Malinowski set new standards for ethnographic research, influencing an entire generation of anthropologists. As a theoretician, opinions of Malinowski diverge. … Malinowski the man was either loved or hated. One supporter said, 'He had a really creative mind, an international outlook and and approach and the imagination of an artist'…. In contrast, the anthropologist Clyde Kluckhohn called him 'a pretentious Messiah of the credulous' - and this in an obituary in the Journal of American Folklore (1943:208). Who was this man who inspired such different reactions? … perhaps his most lasting theoretical observation is his most basic one: cultures are not collections of isolated traits, but are interconnected wholes." (Jerry D. Moore, 1997, Visions Of Culture: An Introduction to Anthropological Theories and Theorists, pages 128-129 and page 138).

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ADDITIONAL WORLD WIDE WEB SITES which might prove of value in the 1990s include: [Anthropological Theories: A Guide Prepared for Students by Students} University of Alabama]] [Theory in Anthropology} Indiana University] [Lewis Henry Morgan] [Herbert Spencer] [The Development of Herbert Spencer's Concept of Evolution] [Edward Burnett Tylor] [A Massive Anthropology site!]

Urbanowicz, Charles F., 1992, Four Field Commentary (Originally published in the Anthropology Newsletter [Washington, D.C.], Vol. 33, No. 9: 3)

Urbanowicz, Charles F., 1997, Charles Darwin: Reflections - Part One: The Beginning, (Seventeen Minute Instructional Videotape: Reflections: Part One, Produced by Ms. Donna Crowe: Instructional Media Center, CSU, Chico).

Urbanowicz, Charles F., 1998a Darwin: From The Origin (1859+), To The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation To Sex (1871), And The Expression of Emotions...(1872) To Today! For PHIL 108 (Ethics And Human Happiness), at CSU, Chico, December 2.

Urbanowicz, Charles F., 1998b Comments On Tasmanian Publications of 1884 and 1973/1974.

To return to the beginning of this paper, please click here.

1. © [All Rights Reserved.] As stated at the beginning, this brief item is based on a Graduate Seminar (ANTH 507) that I took at the University of Oregon in the Fall Quarter of 1968. The original paper was entitled "Notes" and was dated October 29, 1968. This paper is being placed on the WWW on December 30, 1998 as an "example" of my early writing and ideas of the time; the text is unchanged from the original 1968 Graduate Seminar presentation except for the the specific additions at the end for the ANTH 296 class at CSU, Chico, as well as the various WWW sites. To return to the beginning of this paper, please click here.

[This page printed from]

To go to the home page of Charles F. Urbanowicz.

To go to the home page of the Department of Anthropology.

To go to the home page of California State University, Chico.

SOURCE: Bronislaw Malinowski, Argonauts Of The Western Pacific, 1922, page 30.

SOURCE: Lee S. Motteler, Pacific Island Place Names, 1986, page 50.

To go to the home page of Urbanowicz, please click here;

to the Department of Anthropology;

to California State University, Chico.

© [Copyright: All Rights Reserved] Charles F. Urbanowicz

Slight cosmetic changes on 10 April 2001 by CFU

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