The High Plains Society
Applied Anthropology

Between Science and Life: A Comparison of the Fieldwork Experiences of Bronislaw Malinowski and Kirsten Hastrup

Marta Kolankiewicz-Lundberg

Through two cases discussed in this article, I compare the personal experiences of anthropologists doing fieldwork in another culture. The first is that of pioneer Polish anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski (1884-1942), transplanted to London, and his journey to Mailu on the island of New Guinea and later the Trobriand Islands. The second is that of contemporary Danish anthropologist Kirsten Hastrup and her fieldwork in Iceland. Material is drawn from Malinowski’s A Diary in the Strict Sense of the Term, written between 1914 and 1918 and published in 1967. I used the entire text published for the first time in Polish in 2002 to analyze his social interactions in fieldwork settings, as well as to show how his diary has influenced contemporary anthropology. For Hastrup’s field experiences, I draw upon published works of hers listed here as well as upon her work with the Odin Theater of Holstebro, Denmark. I have tried to present the being there of these two anthropologists not only as cultural phenomena with phase changes over time, but also to highlight crucial epistemological and ethical dilemmas for anthropology.  

The Applied Anthropologist, No. 1, Vol. 28, 2008, pp 76 - 88

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