Kung Bushman Essay

Kung Bushman Essay

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The !Kung Bushman

Most contemporary foraging groups, such as the !Kung and other Bushman tribes, are viewed as a “primitive” people. Some have even gone as far to say that they are “the last representatives of the stone age.” While it is true that these people have the most similar culture to what we believe primitive persons to have had, the analogies they can provide us with the people of the past are very inaccurate. These comparisons are so unrivaled due to factors such as time and the wrong sense of view many people have on them. Another reason that we cannot compare the !Kung of today to the people of the past is because they are now advancing in society with the use of technology. I believe that the !Kung tribe is not comparable to the early people of their culture and that they are just the same as us minus our technology, which in no way makes them ‘primitive’ people. First of all, every culture varies in traditions over time. According to Shostak, it is true that the !Kung people still have traditions that have been passed down for hundreds of generations such as their poison arrows, their trance ritual, their wide knowledge of over five hundred species of plants and animals—knowing which are edible, harmful, cosmetic, and medical. Who are we to say that these traditions have not been altered in the past ten thousand years? Howell declares that the !Kung were a very studied group including their language, culture, and economic organization. Although they have been extensively studied, Howell also proclaims, “It is surely illegitimate to use them as though they are the prototypical hunter-gatherers, knowledge of whom tells us all we need to know in order to apply the ethnographic analogy to models of prehistoric life.” Wild, maniac, unsophisticated, uneducated, vulgar…these are all words that come to mind when I think of prehistoric or primitive. Obviously the !Kung tribe have grown with the rest of society. How are we to say what the differences of prehistoric life was to the modern day !Kung tribes? Human error would play a huge role in our “assumptions” of the !Kung. For example, we might turn around to be just as wrong as the article of the Nacirema. Obviously, there is already a misconception about the bushman. For example, in McNeil’s essay, he comments on how a woman was speaking to a bushman and demanded to see one. When he explained ...

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...” The bushman are pretending to be people they are not, giving the tourists what they want. This also gives tourists the wrong impression and significantly aids in the ignorance of the !Kung. This would be devastating to their culture. Culture, after all, is associated with the changes a society goes through over time. If these ‘prisons’ were to be set up, the culture would be forced and therefore in no way a comparison to early persons. Obviously, the !Kung have a very unique culture compared to how we live our lives. They in no way, however, represent what the culture of early persons to have. They have their own culture, unique to their society, and like ours…ever changing. What most people consider “primitive” is an ethnocentric remark to the difference of their culture to ours. The !Kung just have their very own technology, which is very efficient seeing that they survived this long. Due to time, ignorance, and the bushman’s leaning towards our methods, they in no way can be compared to early people by means of their culture. The !Kung Bushmen are living their own lives now, in the present, therefore they can be in no way considered ‘people of the past.’

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