Baloma; The Spirits of the Dead in the Trobriand Islands

Bronislaw Malinowski

Baloma; The Spirits of the Dead in the Trobriand Islands, by Bronislaw Malinowski - click to see full size image

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Baloma; The Spirits of the Dead in the Trobriand Islands by Polish-British anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski was originally published in The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Volume 46. The Trobriand Islanders of the Melanesian region, along with various other cultures in the Australian and New Guinea regions, held the belief that sexual intercourse and pregnancy were not linked by cause and effect. According to this monograph, the Trobrianders subscribed to the notion that the Baloma, spirits of the deceased, would return from the afterlife to impregnate women during their lagoon baths, thereby facilitating the reincarnation of their departed ancestors. This renowned monograph, authored by one of the pioneers of modern ethnography, stands as a cornerstone in the field. Malinowski presents a groundbreaking insight, emphasizing that this belief system is not merely a quaint result of limited scientific understanding among 'natives.' Rather, it is an integral component of a broader cultural complex that, relatively speaking, makes as much sense as any other. He underscores the significance of comprehending that no set of beliefs can be isolated from the larger societal context. In Malinowski's view, anthropology should not consist of the haphazard collection of random customs and artifacts, as it had been until that point. Instead, he advocates for the systematic study of cultures on their own terms.

This book has 43,425 words, 68 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1916.

Production notes: This ebook of Baloma; The Spirits of the Dead in the Trobriand Islands was published by Global Grey on the 8th November 2023. The artwork used for the cover is 'Lake Wakatipu with Mount Earnslaw' by Eugene von Guerard.

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