Bronisław Malinowski


Bronisław Malinowski - Anthropologist in the field

Author: Janusz R. Kowalczyk

Published: Dec 20 2018

World-famous social anthropologist, traveller, ethnologist, religion scholar, sociologist and writer. He is the creator of the school of functionalism, advocate for intense fieldwork, and a forerunner of new methods in social theory.

Academic career

Malinowski starts university in his hometown, Kraków, at the Faculty of Philosophy of the Jagiellonian University. His PhD thesis is entitled About the Economy of Thinking. He continues his education at the London School of Economics. Malinowski spends most of his professional life in Great Britain, the US, and the islands of Melanesia.

In 1914 he manages to gain funds for research in the Trobriand Islands. In the first stage of the journey he is accompanied by the famous Polish writer and painter, Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (Witkacy). However, Malinowski’s friend decides to return to Poland after hearing the news about the outbreak of World War I.

Malinowski continues his fieldwork during subsequent travels to Australia and Oceania. In 1916, he gains his PhD at the University of London. He marries Elsie Masson, the daughter of Sir David Masson who is a chemistry professor at Melbourne University. They have three daughters: Józefa, Wanda and Helena. Malinowski spends a lot of time with his family at their home in Bolzano, Italy.

In 1927 he becomes professor and chair of the Anthropology Department at the University of London. Two years later he publishes a monograph, The Sexual Life of Savages in North-Western Melanesia. He continues on conducting his research in South and East Africa. In 1935 his wife dies.

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