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Anthropologist and "Native" in Early Twentieth Century New Guinea: Malinowski and Thurnwald

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Malinowski, an anglicized Pole and Thurnwald, a German, were in their different ways pioneers of anthropological fieldwork. Both men kept diaries in which they candidly recorded their experiences, Thurnwald's remaining unpublished. These diaries, unlike retrospective and sanitized accounts, reveal their attitudes and behaviours towards two main categories of "natives": the "boys" they employed, and the "savages" who were the object of their research. Comparison of the diary contents show some striking contrasts, attributable to differences in their field situations and also their personality characteristics. In particular, Thurnwald maintained a far greater social distance than Malinowski. Yet both men displayed the then taken-for-granted sense of unquestioned European superiority, and retained elements of that stance to the end of their careers.
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Keywords: Malinowski; Natives; New Guinea; Thurnwald

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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