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The Penultimate CuriosityHow Science Swims in the Slipstream of Ultimate Questions$
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Roger Wagner and Andrew Briggs

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198747956

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198747956.001.0001

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(p.11) Chapter Two Tentasali
The Penultimate Curiosity

Roger Wagner

Andrew Briggs

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes early efforts of scientists to immerse themselves in the culture of indigenous peoples. American ethologist Frank Hamilton Cushing, for instance, joined an anthropological expedition to New Mexico and decided to ‘go native’. From 1879 to 1884, he lived with the Zuni tribe and was initiated into their rituals and practices. Thirty years later, Polish-born anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski lived among the natives of the Trobriand Islands. Malinowski was the first to define the technique of ‘participant-observation’, the goal of which was ‘to grasp the native’s point of view, his relation to life, to realise his vision of his world’. This approach brought to light indigenous peoples’ extensive knowledge of medicinal plants. Cushing himself was given the tribal name, ‘tentasali’, meaning ‘medicine flower’.

Keywords:   primitive cultures, native peoples, Frank Hamilton Cushing, Bronislaw Malinowski, indigenous peoples, medicinal plants

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