ANT 101: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
August 21, 2011
Impact of the Kinship System on San Culture
In this paper I will describe the kinship system of the San (Bushmen) and how it impacts their lives. First I will give a brief description of their culture. Then I will provide three examples of how the kinship system impacts the way the culture behaves. Following each of these examples I will discuss how this aspect of the kinship system compares with American society and also how it may impact behaviors in my life. Finally I will summarize the paper’s key points. Let us begin by learning a little about the San.
The San live in the Kalahari Desert of South Africa which is one of the most inhospitable regions of the world. They survive on hunting wild game and also gathering roots and tubers. They are considered to be one of the oldest cultures in the world. The culture is expected to be over a hundred thousand years old. Only until the last two thousand years have the San began living in the inhospitable desert. They have gradually been pushed here by modernization and farmers that have taken their old, more fertile lands (Tishkoff, 2009). I will now provide some examples of their kinship system and how it relates to Americans today.
Generalized reciprocity plays a huge role in the San Culture. They do a very good job of making sure that everyone in the camp has equal amounts of food. This includes both family and visitors alike. The evening meal of any one family is made up of portions of food from each of the other families in the band. Food can be distributed either raw or will be prepared by whoever has collected the food and then it will be distributed. There is a constant flow of nuts, berries, roots and melons from one family to another. This will continue until everyone has an equal amount of food (Nowak & Laird, 2010). This continuous movement of goods between families...