The Dobe Ju/'Hoansi Essay

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Cultural Anthropology

The Dobe Ju/’hoansi

Commonly referred to as Bushmen by the general public and thought of as being harsh wild people that live in the “unlivable” Kalahari Desert. The Ju /’hoansi tribe native to the southern African desert, located along the border of Namibia and Botswana, have been misunderstood and stereotyped for a long time. This is until a man by the name of Richard B. Lee came along and wrote an ethnography about the local systems of the Ju and completely changed how an outsider might view this rural tribe, along with being a fine example of proper long-term field research in social anthropology. This highly regarded book on the Ju /’hoansi is titled “The Dobe Ju /’hoansi.” Although Lee states in the
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Also, Lee goes on to talk about changes in the Dobe area that have affected their autonomous lifestyle, mainly the westernization and conformity with the Tswana blacks to become more sedentary. When Talking about the changes Lee says, “Sharing has declined and further interpersonal conflict, fueled by alcohol, seems even more frequent” (Lee 2003:167). Lee states, “Like other foragers they are becoming a part of the modern world.”(Lee 2003: 167) The continuation of lengthy fieldwork into the present from three decades ago further reiterates the diachronic study. Other anthropologists have tried to understand the Ju /’hoansi both before Richard Lee and after. The total etic perspective used before the research of Lee proved to be very inaccurate and merely touched the surface of intricacies that are involved in the culture of the Ju/ hoansi. This also raised bad stereotypes resulting from assumptions. After his research there have been archeological finds that states the Ju might not be who they say they are, which spawned the Great Kalahari Debate. But in regards to the debate it’s hard not to side with the person who has spent over 50 years traveling back and forth from the Kalahari, holistically incorporating many different methods of ethnography. Participating is one method