Essay on The San People

Submitted By parsons327126517
Words: 700
Pages: 3

The San People

ANT 101 Cultural Anthropology

November 5, 2012

The San people are a foraging society that have lived in southwest Africa for thousands of years. This makes them the oldest inhabitants of southern Africa. The San, like most foraging band societies, have a nuclear family arrangement. This means each family is made up of a mother, a father, and their children. Each band has multiple families that are usually related to each other, which works better for interaction of the families. According to Nowak & Laird, "In a bilateral descent, the kinship connections through both the mother and the father are equally important. People believe they are related equally to people on both parental sides" (Nowak & Laird, 2010, Descent). Much like here in the United States, the San society also follows this bilateral kinship system. Having a bilateral kinship is means that the San can find relatives in different camps. This feature has been essential in the San survival because in the case of a drought or food shortage, they would have access to other kin for help, shelter, or water. Marriage is important to the upkeep of their kinship system and would ensure that they had family in other neighboring bands. Unlike some other foraging societies, San are more careful about marriage. There are restrictions on marrying anyone who is a second cousin or closer, or anyone with the same name as a nuclear family member. These regulations were put in place to help prevent incest in current and future generations in order to create a larger network of bands, ensuring the San survival. Most San marriages are monogamous though polygamy is allowed. Because the women are so important to the success of a marriage, matrilocality was put in place. Matrilocality helps the bride's family keep an eye on the marriage as well as the groom, to ensure that the marriage goes smoothly. Though the San people place a high value on the success of marriage, divorce is not unusual. Because the San do not have a large amount of personal possessions or wealth, it is much easier for the San people to divorce. With wives often being pressured into marriage at such young ages, they are often the ones who look towards divorce early in the union. I am surprised at the similarities of the San society and kinship patterns here in America. The nuclear family is the basis for both the San and American societies kinship patterns. Here in the United States, there has been some change to the traditional nuclear family because of divorce and remarriage, but families are comprised of one or two parents and their children. Kinship does impact my own behaviors in life because, unlike the San people, my family is not