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Posted March 28, 2010
ARGONAUTS OF THE WESTERN PACIFIC... Anthropology's greatest ethnography
Even though I majored in anthropology in undergraduate school and had heard of 'Argonauts', and the deep reverence many in the field held for this book, it wasn't until graduate school that I was finally assigned to read it. It was my 'core' course in cultural anthropology. We had 12 books to read in one semester. As I recall, 'Argonauts' came up eighth on that list. Once I stated it I was absolutely enthralled. I had a terrible decision to make... do I read and annotate 'Argonauts' carefully word for word and page by page, or do I skim it like the others and go on to the rest of the book list? I chose to annotate 'Argonauts' carefully, skip the rest of the list, fake it as best I could, and hope for the best... It was that GOOD!
Argonauts of the Western Pacific tells the story of people living in a completely different culture, using a completely different value system, and a completely different lifestyle. They are matrilineal and matrilocal which means decent and living arrangements are all traced through the mother. So, did it matter who your father was? This book is compelling in its uniqueness, especially seeing that World War One spelled the doom of this culture and its people. A MUST for every anthropology student!... For those interested, I made an 'A' in the course...
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