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English Issue > 2004

An Annual English Selection - 2004 - 45 - Supplement

Malinowski and Ignorance of Physiological Paternity

Bertrand PULMAN

 

 

pp. 125-146

 

Bronislaw Malinowski began producing scientific texts several years before conducting his ethnographic study of the Trobriand Islands during World War I. This article shows how his first book, The Family among the Australian Aborigenes. A Sociological Study (1913), can very much be considered the matrix of his later research ; in this work he lays the foundations for his later methodological innovations and sketches out a first analysis of kinship phenomena. Moreover, from the start Malinowski granted a crucial role to what he claimed to be certain primitive peoples’ ignorance of physiological paternity. He could not accept contradiction on this point, as is made particularly clear in his dispute with a colonial administrator named Alex Rentoul. Malinowski’s harsh, unpleasant tone in their exchange of views suggests the strong transferential aspect of this theme.

 

 

 
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