Life Histories of the Dobe !Kung: Food, Fatness, and Well-being over the Life-span / Edition 1

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Life Histories of the Dobe !Kung reexamines an important anthropological data set collected by Nancy Howell and colleagues for the Dobe !Kung, the well-known “Bushmen” of the Kalahari Desert. Using life history analysis, Howell reinterprets this rich material to address the question of how these hunter-gatherers maintain their notably good health from childhood through old age in the Kalahari's harsh environment.

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Editorial Reviews

American Scientist - Melvin Konner

"Life Histories of the Dobe !Kung is an enormous achievement, confirming what can be done with unique archival data in the right hands."
Journal Of Anthropological Research - Jane B. Lancaster

“The volume is full of stimulating information.”
American Ethnologist

“Nicely written and very readable. It will be widely read.”
Gastronomica - Jon Holtzman

“A detailed and engaging analysis of nutritional and demographic data on !Kung foragers from the Kalahari desert in Southern Africa.”
Human Nature - Jonathan C. K. Wells

“A very rewarding book . . . her findings are likely to prove very stimulating to the field.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520262348
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 5/6/2010
  • Series: Origins of Human Behavior and Culture Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Nancy Howell is Professor Emerita of Sociology at the University of Toronto.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

1 Another Look at the !Kung: A Life History Approach 1

Research with the Dobe !Kung 1

Research Results: Demography of the Dobe !Kung 3

Reconsidering the !Kung 5

Poverty and Social Change in the Dobe Area 12

2 Life History Stages 19

Definitions of Life Stages 20

Prenatal Life and Birth 22

Infancy 24

Childhood 28

Adolescence 32

The Stage of Childbearing 37

Post-Reproductive Life 40

Retirement: Frailty and Dependence 41

Life Stages for Individuals and for the Population 43

Conclusion: Ages and Stages of Life, for !Kung Women and Men 488

3 Body Size and Growth 49

Why Are the !Kung So Small? 49

Comparison to International Standards of Height and Weight 53

Body Size in Infancy and Early Childhood 60

Childhood Measures Continued: Body Size for Older Children and Adolescents 64

Body Size during the Reproductive Ages 75

Body Size of Post-Reproductive Adults (45+) 77

Summarizing Body Size: The Body Mass Index Difference Measure 79

4 Calories Required 83

Caloric Requirements for Basal Metabolism 85

Time Budgets of Mean Daily Activities 89

Physical Activity Levels 97

Caloric Requirements for Reproduction 9

Adjustment for Temperature 101

Combining the Components of the Necessary Caloric Costs to the Population 101

Are the !Kung Hard-Working People? 103

5 Caloric Productivity and Caloric Balance 107

Production of Food 107

Caloric Balance 120

6 Caloric Balance and Residential Units: Waterholes, Living Groups, Households 127

Waterholes and N!oris 130

Living Groups, Also Known as Bands, Camps, or Villages 139

Households and Their Effects on Well-Being 143

Makhusian, Darwinian, and Common-sense Models of Population Control in the Kalahari 154

7 Kinship Relations as a Support System for Children 157

Relatives in the Household 158

Effects on Children of Having Grandparents in the Living Group 165

Coresidence of Ancestors in the Weil-Being of Children 168

The Grandmother Role from the Point of View of Older Women 172

Kinship as a Resource for All !Kung 174

8 Motives for Sharing Food and Other Prosocial Behavior 183

Models of the Motives for Sharing 184

What Do We Mean by a “Surplus”? 194

Sharing Driven by Scarcity 196

Evolutionary Speculation: The Prosocial Brain as a Product of Decisions About Food Sharing, Perceptions of Need, and Nurturance 197

References 211

Index 221

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