Essay about Eating Christmas in Kalahari

997 Words Nov 15th, 2014 4 Pages
Eating Christmas in the Kalahari
Alec Smith
Ivy Tech Community College
Sociology 111
November 8, 2014

Confusion in Cultures
The perception of foreign cultures can at times be quite peculiar. The article “Eating Christmas in Kalahari” by Richard Borshay Lee, foretells a classic example of cross culture misunderstanding when people from different cultures operate in a culturally unfamiliar environment. Richard Lee, a social anthropologist, explains what he learned living with the !Kung Bushmen, a South African tribe, for three years. This Gemeinschaft community of hunters-gatherers worked together to teach the anthropologist something important to their people, even though he was unaware of their intentions in the beginning.
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Their society was not accustomed to having a supply of food longer than that particular day. Meanwhile, Richard had a supply of food to last him a couple months. Due to the nature of his research, Lee could not interfere with the Bushmen's food-gathering endeavors, which means the inability to provide or share his own food. This undoubtedly caused strong tensions between the wealthy outsider and the lacking tribesmen. His gift of an ox was simply the same thing the others did on a day-to-day basis. The society shared the responsibility of taking care of each other and their families, also referred to as organic solidarity. In other words, no one person could do it alone, and dependence on other becomes essential for group survival.

One might suggest that this is a rough way of teaching someone how generosity is supposed to be, but it turned out to be very effective. Lee had not realized how he was not being generous to the Bushmen people. He was only worried about his means of staying well fed and going without hunger. In the end he realized he was alienating himself out of the group by keeping his food to himself and not sharing among the community. Within their organic solidarity culture, they were all used to helping each other in all aspects of life. They were a close-knit community that took care of each other for the survival of the group. The focal argument of this article may be to illustrate a lack of mutual understanding between people and societies at…

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