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Oxford University Press

Embracing the trope of ethnography as narrative, this chapter uses the mythic story of Bronislaw Malinowski's early career and fieldwork as a vehicle through which to explore key aspects of ethnography's history and development into a distinct form of qualitative research. The reputed "founding father" of the ethnographic approach, Malinowski was a brilliant social scientist, dynamic writer, conceited colonialist, and, above all else, pathetically human. Through a series of intervallic steps -- in and out of Malinowski's path from Poland to the "Cambridge School" and eventually to the western Pacific -- I trace the legacy of ethnography to its current position as a critical, historically informed, and unfailingly evolving research endeavor. As a research methodology that has continually reflected on and revised its practices and modes of presentation, ethnography is boundless. Yet minus its political, ethical, and historical moorings, I argue, the complexities of twenty-first-century society render its future uncertain.

anthropology, colonialism, epistemology, intersubjectivity, writing culture, Bronislaw Malinowski, methodology