Between Polish and Britsh academia and Macedonian fieldwork. Józef Obrębski and the first functionalist research of European village
Anna Engelking (Institute of Slavic Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences)
Paper short abstract:
The paper deals with unknown legacy of Józef Obrębski, a Polish precursor of gender studies. He was a first anthropologist who applied (in the early 1930s' in Macedonia) Malinowski's method and theory to European village. His writings on social structure and magic are now being edited critically.
Paper long abstract:
The paper deals with the beginnigs of the scientific career of Józef Obrębski (1905-1967), a student of Moszyński in Cracow and Malinowski in London. During his lifetime he migrated between several Polish, British and American academic institutions as well as between various fieldworks in Slavic and non-Slavic countries, never becoming a prominent figure in the field. His works, although extremely innovative at his time, remained mostly unpublished. Obrębski conducted field research in Orthodox peasant communities in Macedonia in the early 1930s. He was the first anthropologist who applied Malinowski's ethnographic field method together with his functionalist theory to European village. He analysed social structure and ritual in the researched communites in terms of gender relations. He focused on the social, economic and symbolic contexts of marital law (such as, for instance, bridewealth, marriage by eloption or sexual relations). Using the method of "objective observation and direct experience", as he called it, he also researched witchcraft and the secret practices of love magic as well as other rituals performed by women in the terms of both gender power struggle and cooperation. Due to the events of the World War II and his subsequent emigration from Poland he failed to complete and publish his Macedonian field monographs. The author of this paper aims to reintroduce Obrębski's work to the contemporary anthropology by preparing a critical edition of his writings.
On the move: fieldwork, academy and home in the early anthropologists' careers