Anthropology: Eating Christmas in the Kalahari

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  • Topic: Botswana
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  • Published : October 27, 2012
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Eating Christmas in the Kalahari
Eating Christmas in the Kalahari is an interesting story of how ethnographer, Richard Borshay Lee, exploring the culture of the local !Kung Bushmen natives in the Kalahari Desert, experiences a cultural misinterpretation which caused him so much grief and concern, it almost led to him backing out of his lengthy three year study. Lee nearing the end of his study, decided to supply the meat for the Christmas feast as a parting gift. Bushmen take this meal extremely serious for they rely on this meat to fill their stomachs, which they never experience throughout the entire year. So, after Lee purchases the biggest and strongest looking ox he can find, word spreads through the village. Bushman after Bushman approach Lee with sarcastic jokes about how dumb he was to have purchased a weak and meatless ox, however, Lee does not understand their sarcasm, and believes every word they tell him is true. The comments from the tribe causes Lee to feel disappointed in himself and concerned that he had ruined the feast, he almost leaves! He later learned at the feast how strong and meaty this ox was, and finally realizes they were just playing a joke on him; he never took into account the Bushmen’s cultural sarcasm. This even not only made him learn something about Bushman culture, but also something about his own. This remind me of when I first met one of my ex girlfriends family, who were Greek, for dinner. I am Italian, so almost everything that came out of their mouth was something sarcastic about Italian cooking. I was told this just means they like you, but I don’t know how much truth there was to that.
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