Response to “Eating Christmas in The Kalahari”

This is a story of Richard Lee, an anthropologist, practicing ethnography on the !Kung Bushmens culture. I found it really cool that this African tribe would celebrate their own version of Christmas in December.I also found it fascinating that in order to study the hunting and gathering methods of the !Kung, Richard Lee would not provide them with any food or assistance even though the Bushmen “rarley had a days supply of food on hand.” Although this approach gave him the most accurate data the Bushmen looked at him as a white “miser.” In order to repay them for teaching him about their culture for the past year, he decides to buy a nice ox for the Christmas feast in December. He buys the biggest most beautiful ox he van find in order to feed the entire tribe. However soon after buying it many people of the tribe start complaining to him, “That sack of guts and bones will barley feed once camp, let alone all the bushmen!” Richard thought it was the most beautiful ox there but yet none of the bushmen appreciated it and all they did was complain. However Soon Richard learned that it was a custom of the !Kung that no matter what a person did they would put him down in order to keep his arrogance in check. This practice teaches humility. No matter what a bushman does all the other people would put him down, as to not fuel his ego. Richard learned that it was his power in the community that led to them fooling him about his big ox. He was the only source of tobacco for hundreds of miles so that put him on a pedestal. in order to put him in his place the bushman made him feel bad by telling he was ruining their Christmas festival with the “bag of bones” he bought even though it was a beautiful animal. its a beautiful practice that i believe we should pick up in the States. Don’t be so quick to praise people because soon they will look down onto everyone. its important to keep everyone’s humility in check to have a well balanced community.

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62 Responses to Response to “Eating Christmas in The Kalahari”

  1. vishal.thapa says:

    Ethnographers put the lessons from their classes into practice. Kottak talks about how just as Malinowski, he wanted to census the village. Kottak also mentions that ethnographers gather detailed and accurate data in the environment that they live in. Kottak also did this during his last visit to the village of Arembepe. Kottak was asked by his field leader Harris not to gather data but instead asked him to focus on building trust with the locals at the village of Arembepe.
    Another thing that Kottak tells us about ethnographers is that they do interview schedule just like hedid in which the ethnographers talk directly with informants, ask questions and write answers. Kottak conducted an interview schedule during his visit to Arembepe. He asked questions related to race, religion, income, food , etc. Another think that ethnographers do is that they work directly in the community. They actually live in the environment they are researching. The last thing that ethnographers do is what Kottak did which was analyzing the statistical and observational data which is needed for writing a research paper on a particular community.
    The !Kung Bushmen live and eat humbly. They live in a culture where the Bushmen are taught not to be arrogant. For example, when a Bushman kills a large prey, he doesn’t brag about it. Instead he says that he has only killed a small prey. This makes him more gentle. When the author bought a large ox, the Bushmen made fun of the size and wisdom of the author. The author couldn’t understand that why he wasn’t been praised for the ox he bought for the Christmas feast. But later after the killing of the ox, he understood that the Bushmen were making fun of him so that he wouldn’t become proud. In order to prevent him from boasting of the large ox that he had bought, the Bushmen made jokes about him. In this way, we see that even though being in constant touch with the White and Black communities, the Bushmen have been able to maintain their culture and tradition.
    I was very fascinated with both the readings. Both were different with respect to the locations. But the cultures mentioned in both the readings were similar with respect to how they had preserved and maintained their culture despite various changes taking place around them.

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