1 December 2017
The Trobrianders of Papua New Guinea
The book of “The Trobrianders of Papua New Guinea” is a research in the development of ethnography organized by Annette B. Weiner. Who was a pre-doctoral fieldwork in the study of Trobriand island begin in 1971 and 1972 and in the year of 1974 she received her Ph. D. This novel represents over fifteen years of study on a deep investigation about Trobriand society, culture and behavior. Her casework began with the fieldwork of Bronislaw Kasper Malinowski, who was the first discovered the importance as a field of study.
Malinowski was born in Poland, in 1884 and died in 1942. In his lifetime he has researches Trobriand island for numerous years. He concentrated on the activities of the male Trobrianders, observing the way they went about their daily duty. One method Malinowski used to study the men and turn himself into one of the natives. In that time, he was separating himself from the other white men and instead, spending the majority of his time with the villagers. Malinowski learned that being an ethnographer does not mean to only observe, but to “put aside camera, notebook, and pencil, and to join in himself in what is going on”(pg60). Over time, the Trobrianders viewed him less as just a ‘white man’ or a ‘celebrity’, but as an equal.
On the other side, Dr. Weiner mainly discovered on the women about their value and power in the island. She has extended where Malinowski breaks off and filled in some of the holes in understanding or misunderstandings he had and some things that were overlooked. She discovered that the Trobriander society is structured as a matrilneage. Which it cause Dr. Weiner mainly focused is on “women’s productive activities” or wealth, whereas Dr. Malinowski handles men’s wealth. “By taking seriously the importance of women’s wealth not only brought women as the neglected half of society clearly into the ethnography picture but also forced me to revise many of Malinowski’s assumptions about Trobriand men” (pg.5) this study is in the late 80’s.
In the beginning of the chapter the author mention the basic of principals about the Trobriand culture in her years of study. At the same time, New Guinea was working on self-government and national independence, as the author includes in the book “this particular time period provided important insights into the past history of the island while underscoring Trobriander impressive resistance to foreign intervention” (p.13). The efforts by the Trobriander was to keep the traditional economic and natural process that was linked to the wealth of the women and the role of wealth as it relates to the political life and political economy of the men.
Next will be discover by the death and birth ritual of the culture. Death was resisted by the citizen in the country. This has been change for material wealth, land, social and political relationships. The Trobrianders society is different from our society, it based on matrilineal descent. Which the birth had different roles in each of the family. When the woman is just about to give birth she will moves in with her mother and stays for a few months after the birth, to allow her mother to help with the baby. The chain between mother’s blood and child is very strong, but the Tribriander man’s part in the procreation is not identified.
Adolescent sexuality it was very important to the study of Tribriander. It describes how children at the age of seven or eight begin playing games and imitating adult sexual attitude. At the age of 13 the “children” are looking for a partners, they often change partners after experimenting with each. Usually, they will leave their parents home and have a small house very close to their parents house. Which in that case, this will give the teenage freedom to make their own house adjustment. During this time the elders or their parents will lead the young adults to achieve their needed.