Sex, Culture and Myth

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Author: Malinowski, Bronislaw Kasper (1884-1942)

Year: 1962

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World

Place: New York


vi+346pp with index. Octavo (8 3/4" x 6") bound in original publisher's black cloth with silver lettering to spine with brown decorative design and lettering to cover in original jacket. First edition.

Bronislaw Malinowski was born in Krakow, Poland on April 7, 1884 to Lucyan and Jozefa Malinowski. His was an aristocratic and cultured family with deep scholarly interests. Through the acquisition of an outstanding education and many years of fieldwork, he became a very influential British anthropologist and the founder of Functionalism. He attended King John Sobieski public school then continued on to the University of Krakow where he received his Ph.D. in Philosophy, Physics and Mathematics in 1908. In 1913, he lectured at the London School of Economics where he earned his Ph.D. in Science in 1916. It was there that he read The Golden Bough by Sir James Frazer and sparked his interest in anthropology. Malinowski founded the field of Social Anthropology known as Functionalism, holding the belief that all components of society interlock to form a well-balanced system. He emphasized characteristics of beliefs, ceremonies, customs, institutions, religion, ritual and sexual taboos. His New York Times obituary named him an "integrator of ten thousand cultural characteristics." (Parker, p. 118). Malinowski's first field study came in 1915-18 when he studied the Trobriand Islanders of New Guinea in the southwest Pacific. He used a holistic approach in studying the native's social interactions including the annual Kula Ring Exchange, finding it to be associated with magic, religion, kinship and trade. He contributed to a cross-cultural study of psychology through his observations of the relationships of kinship. He discovered evidence to discredit Sigmund Freud's theory of the Oedipus Complex in the lives of the Trobianders by proving that individual psychology depends on cultural context. He wrote a book about his fieldwork and experiences entitled Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922). He held many positions at the university level including the University of London where he was named the Reader of Anthropology in 1924, the first Chair of Anthropology in 1927 and a Professor the same year. He lectured at Cornell University in 1933 and three years later at Harvard University where he received an honorary doctoral degree. He served as a Visiting Professor at Yale University during 1939. Though fieldwork and various jobs occupied much of his time, he managed to deliver many lectures in cities worldwide such as Geneva, Oslo, Vienna and Rome. Other fieldwork included travel to Africa where in 1934 Malinowski and Radcliffe Brown brought together a generation of anthropologists who documented African tribal societies through excellent fieldwork. He also visited the Oaxaca Valley of Mexico from 1941-42. One of Malinowski's major achievements was a satisfactory integration of cultural theory with psychological science. Not only did he view culture as a system of collective habits, but he repeatedly emphasized its instrumental character. "The functional view of culture lays down the principle that in every type of civilization, every custom, material object, idea and belief fulfills some vital function, has some task to accomplish, represents an indispensable part with a working whole" (Kardiner 1961). Malinowski is famous for his lectures and influential writings. He could speak numerous languages including Polish, Russian, German, French, English, Italian and Spanish. Fluency in speaking the languages of the Native tribes he studied was also obtained. His magnetic manner drew and inspired many of his students to pursue various occupations, mainly in the field of social anthropology. Malinowski died on May 14, 1942 in New Haven, Connecticut.


Corners gently bumped. Jacket corners and spine ends chipped, some closed edge tears. Very good in like dust jacket.

SOLD 2016

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