Dr. Ann M. Raab
February 24, 2018
The Trobrianders of Papua New Guinea is a book based on Malinowski’s ethnographic work of the early 20th century of the Trobriand Islands people. Malinowski gives us a perspective of the male and female viewpoints on the islands. Also, we go deeper into the Trobrianders culture and customs to discover examples of woman’s work and their health care for them. Also, their system of hierarchy, military, and sexuality. We get a sense of their way of life on the islands in the 20th century and discover how different we are, but at the same time, we see how similar we can be. Annette B. Weiner gives us the insight on what the people wanted for themselves early on. The want for was self-independence and a solid government system. The Trobriand people took me for a surprise when I learned that their main goal was to keep traditional ways and activities at all cost. I would have imagined that there would be somewhat of a new change with the effect of trying to form national independence and a newly formed government. This concept was also linked to the wealth of their women and role of their men. Trying to piece together a certain bond of co-responsibilities. These people also have a strong belief in ritual behavior. In their view, death was thought to be avoided from their culture. Meaning they want to avoid death whenever they can in society. The people of this culture would be judged based off their wealth and items, including health over their life. Also, by how much land they possess and their part in political and social relations. Even by how many wives they possibly had too. Their birth ritual was just a tad different. The Trobrianders believed that the mother was one of the most important pieces in a child’s life. But the father is not that much of a role if he is so at all. I had to step back and think almost how similar this was to our culture. We give mom all the love and care we can. In most family’s dad is there and he gives us the same effort and energy. But there is something special about a mother to our culture, just like the Trobriander’s. Sometimes as well in our society, we do have some fathers that are missing in action. Some of the unfortunate events, some by choice. This is almost related to how the fathers are in the Trobriander’s society. They are not seen in the picture at all. It’s the mother who is there for the love and support for their children. Fathers are most of the time not even recognized in this sense. In this culture children younger than the age of ten starts to act out sexual activities of the adults. Once three to five years pass the young people start to find mates and marry. Moving out of their parent’s homes and starting their own. Just like how we do in our culture. This is one of the many key things I read that was interesting to me. One way how this can relate to our course study is by databases for anthropology. Ethnography is more of a scientific description of a society’s culture. In our course study of anthropology, we look more towards people’s society, customs, beliefs, and culture. This will intermix because we study the same area of stuff. But, ethnography is done more in a scientific way. When anthropologist goes to a different area, with a different culture. This can be considered ethnography. You are observing a different culture. You are interviewing the people of that society. This is work of an anthropologist. But the way we do the work is through ethnographic ways when we talk and see the people. This way of working will give us a better understanding of an academic viewpoint for an anthropologist. What also makes this more impactful. This case of study seemed new to Malinowski. But the book helps to let the reader know that ethnography is more a study of history, the human body, and peoples culture.There were some sections of the book that I disagreed with or disliked. One of them being that the father in the role was not recognized like the mother. In our society and culture, the father plays a significant role. Not as big of a role like a mother is, but the father is still prevalent. Without my father, I would not be able to do or learn many things that I know today. I would not be going to college without his help. Or even learning how to do the simple stuff, like changing oil or learning about recent technology. Without a father, we would be missing out on so much family tradition and customs that we have. So, to see that the father was not involved in the child was a little upsetting. That the father would not be getting as much recognition as the mother. This could be due to the high-ranking chiefs having more than one wife as well. Which would be driving the male away more from that family. This was another thing that I did see a problem within this society. In the United States, the main form of “true” love is a monistic relationship. But in the Trobriander’s case, this is not a problem at all. You would be ranked higher as a Monarch if you did have more than one wife. But to us, this would be considered shameful and ugly, to most Americans. We would not be able to see the love that a male could have between one or two more wives. One factor of their culture that I didn’t necessarily dislike or disagree with but didn’t know how to feel about this. Was how young the children experience a sexual relationship. To our society age ten is a very young age, but to think of your ten-year-old son or daughter to be acting out sexual activities is very disturbing to us. I completely understand that is their culture but to us this is very out of order. By the age of thirteen up to sixteen you would be married. In the united states this would be illegal unless your parents decided to say it was okay. Age in the Trobriander’s culture seem not to be a key factor on relationships and man/women hood. But our society basses everything off age. Age decides when you can drink, smoke, vote, drive, and even play certain video games! But, all in all there were a lot of their culture that was very interesting and had a lot of meaning. Even some of their society was a little bit like ours. This was anthropology at it’s youngest form when Malinowski’s did Ethnography work here. But, Annette B. Weiner would expand on Malinowski’s study.