The San (“Bushmen”) of the Kalahari Desert
ANT 101 Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Professor Michael King
October 17, 2012
I have chosen to identify and describe the kinship system of the San (“Bushmen”) of the Kalahari. The San, as well as other cultures have a cultural rule, or descent that defines what category they are in socially. This descent originates from the parent and passes on to the child. There are two types of descents, unilineal and bilateral. With unilineal descent, kin relations are traced through either the mother or the father. In 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, B., Laird, P, 2010a) The San in particular have a bilateral descent. Because the San have so many kinship connections, in every band that they visit they will find kin, or a relative. This strategy really works for the San in times of scarcity. A family that is enduring shortage can find kin elsewhere for help with access to water and a place to stay. (Nowak, B., Laird, P., 2010b, pg.3.7)
The San have rules for marriage. They cannot marry second cousins or closer. Also, a man cannot marry a woman who has his parents or siblings same name. I question; is it the first name, the last name, or both? Because of this, almost 75% of the populations are in a category in which they cannot wed. Because so many cannot wed their consanguineal (blood) kin, there is an increase of affinal (related by marriage) weddings. These affinal weddings contribute to expanding access to resources. (Nowak, B., Laird, P., 2010c, pg. 3.7)
San girls usually do not want to get married because they are too young. Parents want their daughters to get married, so they pressure them into doing so. The bride is too young to leave her family, so the groom moves in with her families’ band. This act of the groom...
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