The Family among the Australian Aborigines: A Sociological Study

By B. Malinowski | Go to book overview

ADDENDA

SEVERAL points omitted in the body of this book, as well as a few works and passages of special importance, which I noted whilst reading the proofs, may be mentioned shortly in this place. I read the book of Mr. Crawley ( Mystic Rose) unfortunately after the foregoing pages were in type; my study would have been more complete had I known it before. Mr. Crawley analyzes the psychology underlying human relations (those of sex in particular) from their religious side. Primitive man is full of apprehension of the mutual danger inherent in social and especially in sexual contact. Hence the different systems of taboo; the sexual taboo being one of the most important. To establish harmless relations between people of different sexes requires a system of breaking the taboo.

The ceremonies and rites of marriage are treated in the Mystic Rose from this point of view (removal of taboo). In my opinion this book is of great sociological importance chiefly because it shows that the sexual act must be treated in its bearing upon social forms, not as a simple physiological fact, but as a phenomenon complex both in its sociological and psychological aspects. For "savages" in particular it is surrounded by a network of magico-religious ideas, apprehensions and emotions, resulting in a system of rites, customs and institutions, which never can be comprehended without reference to the underlying psychology. It follows as an important consequence that everything connected with matters of sex is an object of well-defined rules and laws (compare: the passage above, p. 123, where the same has been pointed out with reference to the Australians).

Another important result of Mr. Crawley's work is the establishment of the principle that marriage rites, being the breaking of a dangerous taboo, are an essential part of marriage, and therefore their study is essential for the understanding of this institution. The rites, being exclusively intended to break the taboo between two individuals and not between two groups, lead to individual marriage and family, and not to "group marriage" and "group family."

Mr. Crawley's book is full of valuable remarks, some of which must be quoted in the following paragraphs. I complete also the information on several points by the addition of statements from Mr. Roth North Queensland Ethnography ( Bull.9 sqq.), which I have only recently been able to peruse.

Pp. 27-29. Methodic Presentation of evidence. As in summing up the evidence the number of statements supporting one view or another has been adduced sometimes by way of illustration, it

-305-

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The Family among the Australian Aborigines: A Sociological Study
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction xi
  • Chapter I - Exposition of the Problem and Method 1
  • Chapter II - Modes of Obtaining Wives 34
  • Chapter III - Husband and Wife 67
  • Chapter IV - Sexual Aspect of Marriage 89
  • Chapter V - Mode of Living 132
  • Chapter VI - Discussion of Kinship 168
  • Chapter VII - Parents and Children 234
  • Chapter VIII - Economics 274
  • Chapter IX - Summary and Conclusions 292
  • Addenda 305
  • References and Reading List 310
  • Index 313
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