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The Dobe Ju/'Hoansi / Edition 3

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This classic, bestselling study of the !Kung San, foragers of the Dobe area of the Kalahari Desert describes a people's reactions to the forces of modernization, detailing relatively recent changes to !Kung rituals, beliefs, social structure, marriage and kinship system. It documents their determination to take hold of their own destiny-despite exploitation of their habitat and relentless development-to assert their political rights and revitalize their communities. Use of the name Ju/'hoansi (meaning "real people") acknowledges their new sense of empowerment.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780155063334
  • Publisher: Cengage Learning
  • Publication date: 2/4/2002
  • Series: Case Studies in Cultural Anthropology Series
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.42 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Lee (B.A. and M.A., University of Toronto; Ph. D., University of California, Berkeley) is a professor of anthropology at the University of Toronto and a member of the faculty of the Centre for International Health. He has held academic appointments at Harvard, Rutgers, and Columbia Universities, and research positions at Stanford, the Australian National University, and Kyoto University. His current research interests include the social and cultural aspects of HIV/AIDS, human rights and indigenous peoples, critical medical anthropology gender relations, and the politics of culture. He is internationally known for his studies of hunting-and-gathering societies, particularly the Ju/hoansi-!Kung San of Botswana. His book the !Kung San (1979) was honored by inclusion on a list of the 100 most important works of science of the 20th century by the journal American Scientist (1999, November). A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and past president of the Canadian Anthropology Society, Dr. Lee has been awarded honorary doctorates by the University of Alaska and Guelph University for his research and advocacy on behalf of indigenous peoples.

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Fourth Edition. 1. The Ju/'hoansi. 2. The People of the Dobe Area. 3. Environment and Settlement. 4. Subsistence: Foraging for a Living. 5. Kinship and Social Organization. 6. Marriage and Sexuality. 7. Complaint Discourse: Aging and Caregiving among the Ju/'hoansi. 8. Conflict, Politics, and Exchange. 9. Coping with Life: Religion, World View, and Healing. 10. The Ju/'hoansi and Their Neighbors. 11. Perceptions and Directions of Social Change. 12. The Ju/'hoansi Today. 13. Tsumkwe at 50: The 2010 Social Survey of a Namibian Ju/'hoansi Town. 14. Anthropological Practice and Lessons of the Ju/'hoansi. Postscript: The /Gwihaba Dancers. Appendix A: Eating Christmas in the Kalahari. Appendix B: The Kalahari Debate: Ju/'hoan Images of the Colonial Encounter. Glossary of Ju/'hoan and Other Non-English Terms. Films of the Ju/'hoansi: An Annotated List. References Cited and Recommended Readings. Index.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2010

    Dobe Ju/'hoansi

    The Dobe Ju/'hoansi by Richard Lee is an informative ethnography that studies a band of hunter-gatherer people living by a waterhole called Dobe, within the boundaries of Namibia and Botswana. Author Richard Lee goes into detail about the lifestyle of the Ju/'hoansi when he first visited them in the late 1960's. The book is a little choppy however, and switches back and forth between the Dobe that he experienced in his first visit, with the current situation in the area (as of 2001). It does not seem to flow very well between the different editions that have been written (this being the third) and can be a little confusing because of this. Despite this the ethnography does a good job of being clear in relating the details about the different parts of the Ju/'hoansi culture.

    Lee is also criticized with failing to fully relate the Ju/'hoansi's connection with the world around it, and I would suggest reading The Bushman Myth by Rob Gordon and Stuart Sholto Douglas, because it might give a more cohesive look at the situation and history of the Dobe people. Lee does reference history in his later revisions of the book, which is a positive note but fails to bring to fruition the truth that this history has been one of exploitation and warfare. Other than those few things I think the book does a good job of setting a tone in wanting the educate the reader on the social structure of this group and the ways that it can impact our own worldview and our ways of understanding our own structures. As well as this, Lee seems to hope to open a window into the past of our own cultures development and speaks of how the people in this area have a lot to teach us.

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  • Posted April 9, 2010

    Dobe Ju/'hoansi

    The Dobe Ju/ hoansi people claim to be egalitarian but through their social ladder of the eldest holding power proves contrary. The Dobe/' hoansi are a band of people that live in southern Africa. They re one of the societies that's are considered to be a "lost" society because of there lack of communication with the outside world. Although they have some knowledge of the outside world they choose not to a have a lot of contact with it. The people know about the outside because of the wars in neighboring countries and their involvement of the European nations.

    The Dobe Ju/' hoansi people have a simple diet. The people live on a lot of vegetables. Meat is not a big part of their diet because it involves hunting. Although the people live mostly on the vegetation of the land they are not an agricultural society; because of this the people embody the most primitive of cultures.

    The Dobe Ju/' hoansi have a highly developed sense of unity. The survival of the village depends on each person doing his job. If someone does not do their part by gathering vegetation, or a hunter does not catch an animal, soon the whole village is deprived. Although this sounds demanding it makes the Dobe Ju/' hoansi strong. It allows a certain dependence on the people.

    Personal merit is not valued by the Dobe Ju/' hoansi. When someone from the village does something that western society would say deserves praise they instead criticize them. In the U.S basketball stars are given praise for being able to make a three pointer, a baseball player gets a standing ovation for hitting a home run. This is the opposite for the Dobe Ju/ hoansi. A hunter that has brought home a kill is complained about. The elders that receive a great amount of care from the young people of the village constantly mummer about the bad treatment they supposedly receive.

    They Dobe Ju/'hoansi people do this to keep everyone on the same level; because recognition causes pride. Pride can lead someone from the village to think they are better than the rest of the village and result in murder. One can compare it to the story of Harrisobergeron by Kurt Vonegat. The Dobe Ju/' hoansi are filled with modesty because of this. No one concentrates on them selves but rather focuses on the needs of the community as a whole. Sharing is a big part of the village.

    There is no notion of privacy except in the case of marriage. There is a big feeling of community because of this. All objects are used to for the good of the community. There is no concept of "mine". This has helped make their concept of life. The people do not - as Americans do - live to work and work to live The Dobe work enough to meet the needs of the village and enjoy the rest of the day.

    The Dobe give a lot of respect to the elders of their society. Although the elders cannot contribute anything to the village in terms of bringing in food, they are looked up to. The elders advice are taken with the most regard. When they die their sprits are feared and the children of the village are given names of the past elders to as a sign of this respect. The elders are also are seen as the ones with the most knowledge, even though they are not given the title

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2010


    This ethnography, by Richard Lee, is a study of the Ju/'hoansi people who occupy the Dobe area, which contains multiple watering holes. The Dobe area is located mainly in Botswana and has some area in Namibia, and the desert is referred to as the Kalahari Desert. The people that are studied are the San people, which are primarily hunters and gatherers. These San are primarily short in height, and they are friendly people who have developed a language that contains different clicking sounds. They are described as being frequent talkers. When Lee arrives the feel as if that he should bring them gives to benefit them, and he owns a truck and they ultimately allow him to live with them for a period of time.

    The Ju/'hoansi have had a period of social change recently, but when Lee lived there in the early 1960's there was minimal influence from the rest of the world. Traditionally the Ju/'hoansi carry no livestock, and solely hunt the animals around them and gather the available items around. This area of the Dobe consists of ten watering holes, and is located to the north and south of the Aha Hills. This area was relatively isolated during colonialism, so these people were not exploited as much as some groups in other areas of Africa.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2010

    The Dobe Ju/'hoansi

    The Dobe Ju/'honsi by Richard Lee is his field study of the basic human adaptations of a band people whose lifestyle is dependent on hunting and gathering. The Dobe's lack of technological advancement caused them to lack the complications that come with them. It was due to this simplicity that Lee chooses to study them. He felt that studying these surviving foragers would help others to understand the evolution of all humans. "All basic human institutions- language, marriage, kinship, family, exchange and human nature its self- were formed during the . period when we lived as hunters and gatherers" (Lee 2). Exploring these elements of humanity in their "simplest" state can help people to create theories of human evolution.
    The Kung San of Dobe are a band that generally has been un affected by urbanization and have resisted participation in more sedentary practices like cattle herding, making them a prime sample for Lee's study. Unlike some of their neighbors they have remained foragers surviving purely on hunting and gathering. Lee raises many questions for his readers and gives only speculation at possible theories of human existence. When Lee describes his interaction with the people of Kung San he highlights several similarities between the people of the band and urban personalities, particularly in Toma's (the head of the band) desire for gifts such as tobacco. Urban and nonurban societies share a desire for luxuries as well as necessities.
    Lee explains the Ju's dependence on their environment for survival. Their land consists of four different habitats, Dunes, Flats, Melapo, and Hardpan, as well as three different water sources. All of these elements are affected greatly by the climate and the weather seasons drastically changing the Ju lifestyle. The fragility and changing environment of the Ju causes strong ties to their community and greater ownership over their responsibilities and work. This strong sense of community and responsibility can also be explained by the Ju's hunter and gather practices.
    Lee explains in great detail the methods in which the Ju hunt and gather. In the Ju band all food, resources and tools are shared. The result is that everyone is well fed and it takes much less time for people to maintain sustainability. Lee estimated that the average person spent about 20 hours a week doing work and that was more than enough to ensure that everyone in the band was well nourished. This method appears to work because of its small size it is easier for the community to have accountability for the amount of work they do; if someone is not pulling their wait it is recognized and that is reprimanded.
    Their hunting practices are also very communal, from the person that makes the arrow to the partners in a hunting group. This encourages shared ownership, fair distribution of meat and bonding between people. Also, men and women share equal status and responsibility in the livelihood of the band though women gather and men hunt. Lee makes it clear that the Ju is a society that is based on egalitarianism, modesty and collectivism.
    Lee continued to explain Ju Relationships in terms of kinship and Marriage. Based on his observations Lee organized a structure of Kinship that involves three parts; normal kinship, name relation kinship and the principle within kinship. Normal kinship is based on joking relationships or avoidance, respectful relationships. If someone has a joking relationship with someone they

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  • Posted April 8, 2010

    theoretical ties

    Dr. Richard B. Lee's book titled The Dobe Ju/'hoansi beautifully depicts the tale of a cluster of indigenous people located in southern Africa and whose life and way of being can be linked to many theoretical concepts. According to Tylor, this cluster of people are representative of the lowest culture in society because it has lacked the capability of progressing like the other cultures in the world today. Tylor's idea of a unilinear cultural evolution states that not only species evolve, culture does too and that transformation hapens with the use of rationality. The Dobe people have clustered around a particular waterhole called Dobe and their very primitive way of life has given way to the nickname of 'savages' that Tylor would label them. Hunting and gathering are their primary means of getting food and the way in which they do this creates an environment in which they have to trust and rely on each other. Despite the use of technology making the world smaller, this group managed to remain unknown until the 1950s and this has created a world for them virtually extracted from other societies. Tylor states that it is ignorance, or one's own culture that prevents them from progressing, and many can argue that this has happened to the Dobe people. "We were sad and just lived. Now that you have come, our hearts are glad. Now we have a White man of your own. We waited so long. It's about time you've come." (7) This phrase was said by one of the Dobe people which I believe signifies their inferiority to the white race. I liked this particular book because it went into every detail of the Dobe people's lives and tried to explain it in a way that was not inferior to the rest, but it treated it a special and beautiful way of life. Lee's Boasnian way of looking at this tribe allows the reader to see their customs as existing because the people have grown up that way and become attached to it.

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