Malinowski, Bronislaw

Tremlett, Paul-François (2020). Malinowski, Bronislaw. In: Possamai, Adam and Blasi, Anthony J. eds. The SAGE Encyclopedia of the Sociology of Religion. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.



Bronislaw Malinowski (1884–1942) was a Polish-born anthropologist whose fieldwork in the Trobriand Islands became, in no small measure as a result of Malinowski’s own efforts, something of a founding myth for the British functionalist school of anthropology. In Malinowski’s seductive prose, the ethnographic method was a kind of magic for apprehending Trobriand life and experience, and it marked a break, in British social anthropology, from the largely library-based research methods of predecessors such as James G. Frazer (1854–1941). The posthumous publication of Malinowski’s Trobriand fieldwork diaries in 1967 (A Diary in the Strict Sense of the Term) precipitated considerable reassessment of Malinowski and a wider crisis in the discipline, opening out questions of gender, race, and power in the ethnographic encounter.

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