The Dobe Ju/Hoansi Essay

This essay has a total of 1317 words and 5 pages.

The Dobe Ju/'Hoansi

Lee, Richard B., 1993, The Dobe Ju/ ?hoansi. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, (second edition).
Bushman: a member of a group of short-statured peoples of southern Africa who
traditionally live by hunting and foraging. While the term ?bushman? has come to be known
as both racist and sexist, it is easily the most recognized term when describing the
people living amongst the bush of southern Africa. The San, as they are now known as, are
a cluster of indigenous peoples of southern Africa who speak a click language and who have
a tradition of living by hunting and gathering (10). In the book The Dobe Ju/?hoansi,
Richard B. Lee, an anthropologist from the University of Toronto, takes an interesting and
in-depth look into the San life by centering his studies on one specific group. Lee?s
focus of study takes place on the border between the countries of Namibia and Botswana in
an area called the Dobe. Here there live a tribe of people known as the Dobe Ju/?hoansi.

Lee centers on several important issues of the Ju/?hoansi culture and lifestyle throughout
the book. He provides a tremendous amount of information that is broken into twelve
chapters that continually draws deeper into the internal thinking of the Ju/?hoansi
culture. The method of bringing out this information is delivered first externally with
their environment and examples of hunting techniques while moving into deeper issues such
as sexuality and religion. Lee also informs the reader on the Ju/?hoansi?s kinship, social
organization, marriage, as well as conflict, their politics, and social change.

Lee begins the case study by providing an interesting lead-in as to the trials and
tribulations of locating the Dobe people. I thought that this was an interesting device in
order to grasp the reader?s attention towards the immense isolation that the Ju/?hoansi
remain in. Once contact has been established, Lee delves into covering basic background
information such as the environment that they live in including climate, physical
features, and settlement patterns. I found this information to be very helpful in my
attempt to familiarize myself with the Dobe Ju/?hoansi as to how they live. While Lee
covers a great deal of information about the Dobe Ju/?hoansi, I found that the most
important issues lie within their subsistence, kinship, and sexuality.

The Dobe Ju/?hoansi are a hunting and gathering group of people, which is thought to be
how early man lived. Therefore, it is easy to see why Lee acknowledges the importance of
studying the Ju/?hoansi while they are still relatively isolated. Here we are able to view
a culture that retains our early ancestral pattern. As recently as 1964, 85% of their
calories were the result of hunting and gathering (156). That number has since decreased
due to the increased Westernization. The most interesting feature of the Ju/?hoansi
foraging is the relatively little amount of work needed to feed a village. As Lee observed
on a trip to a mongongo tree, that within a two-hour period, a woman gathered 30-50 lbs.
of nuts enabling a person to eat for ten days (40).

The kinship of the Dobe Ju/?hoansi is very important in creating order to interpersonal
relationships, inheritance, and marriage (foreword, v). Lee suceeds where others have
failed in that he is able to take a difficult and complex topic (social organization of
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