Kinship Systems of the San Culture

Topics: Marriage, Family, Kinship Pages: 3 (1021 words) Published: January 14, 2013
Kinship Systems of the San Culture
Kinship systems in foraging based societies provide support for all of the individuals in the band community. The San, also known as Bushmen, of Kalahari Desert are one of the best-known foraging communities in the modern world. They are also one of the most, tight-knit bands held together by kinship. In chapter three of Cultural Anthropology written by Barbara Nowak and Peter Laird, describe the kinship relationships of the San by stating, “A meal for every household is composed of items of food from each other's labor; they are not strangers. Generosity in sharing maintains kin and social relationships while providing a safety net”. Each member of the San culture is not out for their self or themselves. Instead they rely in their kinships from the other members of their band, and surrounding family, to come together come together collectively to support each other. The San rely on the kinship they have with one another in several different areas of their lives. Three of the major areas include gathering and distributing food, deciding on who and when to marry as well as handling divorce

For foraging based societies finding food is essential to survival. The San, like so many other foraging societies, move with the changing seasons to maintain their food supplies. With this constant moving, unity within the band is necessary to ensure everyone receives food. Nowak and Laird say “Not only do families pool the day's production, but the entire camp—residents and visitors alike—shares equally in the total quantity of food available. The evening meal of any one family is made up of portions of food from each of the other families in the band”. It is this kind of kinship that strengthens the community. The band is made up of kin and family relationships, both of which are very important and equally viewed. The San people would not turn away a neighbor, just as they would not turn away their son or mother from sharing...
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