Argonauts of the western Pacific

Argonauts of the western Pacific is the accounts of a series of anthropological expeditions known as the Robert Mond Expedition to New Guinea, 1914-1918. It has been described as a great classic of anthropological research. The scope of the expeditions was to understand and document tribal life by describing the organisation of the tribes, their religions, trade, myths and daily behaviour. To do this the scientist spend long time living with the natives and collected detailed observations in ethnographic diaries from the shores of the Kula District. From the book:

“This goal is, briefly, to grasp the native’s point of view, his relation to life, to realise his vision of his world. We have to study man, and we must study what concerns him most intimately, that is, the hold which life has on him. In each culture, the values are slightly different ; people aspire after different aims, follow different impulses, yearn after a different form of happiness. In each culture, we find different institutions in which man pursues his life-interest, different customs by which he satisfies his aspirations, different codes of law and morality which reward his virtues or punish his defections. To study the institutions, customs, and codes or to study the behaviour and mentality without the subjective desire of feeling by what these people live, of realising the substance of their happiness—is, in my opinion, to miss the greatest reward which we can hope to obtain from the study of man.”

The book is richly illustrated with maps and photographs. Download the free PDF e-book here (617 pages/30.5 MB):

 Argonauts of the Western Pacific

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