Bronislaw Malinowski

For no sooner had I begun to read this great work [Frasier, The Golden Bough ], than I became immersed in it and enslaved by it. I realized then that anthropology, as presented by Sir James Frazer, is a great science, worthy of as much devotion as any of her elder and more exact sister studies, and I became bound to the service of Frazerian anthropology.

“For no sooner had I begun to read this great work [Frasier, The Golden Bough ], than I became immersed in it and enslaved by … Read More

An order given in battle, an instruction issued by the master of a sailing ship, a cry for help, are as powerful in modifying the course of events as any other bodily act…You utter a vow or forge a signature and you may find yourself bound for life to a monastery, a woman or prison.

“An order given in battle, an instruction issued by the master of a sailing ship, a cry for help, are as powerful in modifying the … Read More

Coastal sailing as long as it is perfectly safe and easy commands no magic. Overseas expeditions are invariably bound up with ceremonies and ritual. Man resorts to magic only where chance and circumstances are not fully controlled by knowledge.

“Coastal sailing as long as it is perfectly safe and easy commands no magic. Overseas expeditions are invariably bound up with ceremonies and ritual. Man … Read More

In the field one has to face a chaos of facts, some of which are so small that they seem insignificant; others loom so large that they are hard to encompass with one synthetic glance. But in this crude form they are not scientific facts at all; they are absolutely elusive, and can be fixed only by interpretation, by seeing them sub specie aeternitatis, by grasping what is essential in them and fixing this. Only laws and generalizations are scientific facts, and field work consists only and exclusively in the interpretation of the chaotic social reality, in subordinating it to general rules.

“In the field one has to face a chaos of facts, some of which are so small that they seem insignificant; others loom so large … Read More

Both magic and religion are based strictly on mythological tradition, and they also both exist in the atmosphere of the miraculous, in a constant revelation of their wonder-working power. They both are surrounded by taboos and observances which mark off their acts from those of the profane world.

“Both magic and religion are based strictly on mythological tradition, and they also both exist in the atmosphere of the miraculous, in a constant revelation … Read More

There are no peoples however primitive without religion and magic. Nor are there, it must be added at one, any savage races lacking in either the scientific attitude, or in science, though this lack has been frequently attributed to them.

“There are no peoples however primitive without religion and magic. Nor are there, it must be added at one, any savage races lacking in either … Read More

The anthropologist must relinquish his comfortable position in the long chair on the veranda of the missionary compound, Government station, or planter’s bungalow, where, armed with pencil and notebook and at times with a whisky and soda, he has been accustomed to collect statements from informants…. He must go out into the villages, and see the natives at work in gardens, on the beach, in the jungle; he must sail with them to distant sandbanks and to foreign tribes.

“The anthropologist must relinquish his comfortable position in the long chair on the veranda of the missionary compound, Government station, or planter’s bungalow, where, armed … Read More

Magic enables man to carry out with confidence his important tasks, to maintain his poise and his mental integrity in fits of anger, in the throes of hate, of unrequited love, of despair and anxiety. The function of magic is to ritualize man’s optimism, to enhance his faith in the victory of hope over fear. Magic expresses the greater value for man of confidence over doubt, of steadfastness over vacillation, of optimism over pessimism.

“Magic enables man to carry out with confidence his important tasks, to maintain his poise and his mental integrity in fits of anger, in the … Read More