Bronislaw Malinowski (1884-1942) was a founding figure of modern social-cultural anthro­pology. His name is pre­dominantly associated with the scientific formulation of ethnography as a research method, an innovation that changed the face of research in the social sciences and continues to have ramifications today.

Facade of the Malinowskis’ house in Oberbozen.
Photo by Caterina Ioppi

Qualitative social scientists around the globe refer to this paradigm, but even many anthropologists are unaware of the special relationship that Malinowski had to South Tyrol: his family lived from 1922 to 1934 in Bozen-Bolzano and Oberbozen, and his grandchildren continue to spend time in this home to this day. Additionally, much remains to be learned about his wife, Elsie Masson, who remained in South Tyrol while her husband was away for teaching and research activities: she was an active observer of South Tyrolean society under Fascism and collaborated with her husband on his publications. In recent years, a Provincial cultural commission established a historical marker at the Oberbozen villa. On 23 January 2017, the Mayor of Bolzano unveiled a plaque in piazza Gries, in memory of the places where the family lived in the city. Bozen-Bolzano’s “Hill of the Sages” garden is another site that commemorates Bronislaw Malinowski, with a tree planted in his honor

Research Project

The MFEA project aims to study the works and lives of Bronislaw Malinowski and Elsie Masson, focusing on their presence in South Tyrol. The research project investigates many issues of the Malinowski-Masson collaboration and the role of their private social network, which includes students and academics but also relatives and friends, in the rise of collective ideas and shared lifestyles that contributed to the development of science, ethnography and anthropology. (For more information, see the page Project).

Resources

The MFEA project makes available different resources about Malinowski, linking to the main archives and collections that provide manuscripts, papers, photos, letters and the objects that Malinowski brought with him from the Trobriand Islands.

It also offers a wide bibliography of both the Malinowskis’ works, such as monographs, articles, book reviews and introductions to students’ books, and works about Bronislaw Malinowski, Elsie Masson, the Trobriand Islands, the Malinowskian legacy in ethnography and history of anthropology. Some materials are available online as open access. Other materials are only accessible via the catalogue of the University of Bozen-Bolzano Library or those of other accredited universities. The bibliography is periodically updated.

Shared resources also contain links to the webpages of institutes and associations that promote public lectures, awards and conferences dedicated to the legacy of Bronislaw Malinowski.

Finally, they include videos about Malinowski, such as documentary trailers from YouTube, created by the RAI-Royal Anthropological Institute, by the BBC and by Zachary Stuart, Malinowski’s great-grandson.

The main archives of Malinowski’s material and the greatest of Malinowski’s collections from the Trobriands

Masson’s and Malinowski’s works, studies on Malinowski and the Trobriands, ethnography and history of anthropology

Documentaries about Malinowski’s life and works

Institutes, associations, lectures and awards dedicated to Malinowski