Nearly 1,000 photographs depicting life in Papua New Guinea are now available for viewing on the UC San Diego Library’s Digital Collections website: lib.ucsd.edu/hutchins, photographs taken in the context of anthropological research in Papua New Guinea’s Trobriand Islands.
In 1975, anthropologist Edwin Hutchins and his wife, Dona, arrived on Kiriwina in the Trobriand Islands, where they would spend the next year conducting anthropological research. They took nearly 1000 photographs, depicting many aspects of social life and material culture, including mortuary exchanges, the construction and sailing of canoes (including elaborate kula canoes), and the fabrication of colorful fiber skirts. Ed Hutchins’ Kiriwina research resulted in his dissertation, Reasoning in discourse: an analysis of Trobriand Island land litigation (Ph.D., UCSD 1978).
The Hutchins have generously made their photographs available to the UC San Diego Library, for inclusion in the Library’s Digital Collections. Anthropology graduate student, Jordan Haug, supplied the descriptions for each of the images, in collaboration with Hutchins, a professor emeritus of Cognitive Science.
Besides their intrinsic value, the photographs offer insight on the study of Trobriand culture and history. They also provide an intriguing contrast with photographs taken in the Trobriands between 1915-1918 by Bronislaw Malinowski, one of the pioneers of 20th century anthropology. Malinowski was the first of many anthropologists to conduct long-term fieldwork in the Trobriands.