Kinship Systems of the San Cultures

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Kinship Systems of the San Cultures
Lynn M. Mudd
ANT 101: Introduction to Anthropology
Instructor Cynthia Livingston
March 22, 2011

Kinship 1

The oldest social structure in human existence are societies known as bands. These are people who have lived their entire lives as hunters and gatherers, or foragers, in order to survive, feeding themselves, and their families. Now these families might not be exactly what, or how we may describe our families in today’s society. In these bands, people resided in small, self-sufficient mobile groups. The exploitation of fauna and the local flora is how Band socioeconomic life is based. The foraging people live within a defined territory and exist in what is called a subsistence economy, where people produce only what is needed for their survival. Their small, independent communities break up and rejoin with different members, and among them, there is a continuous movement of goods through kinship ties, and residential proximity. This continuous movement of goods is actually what strengthens their obligations to each other. Foragers called the San, for example, have very strong kinship systems, which impacts their way of life and the way the culture behaves.

The San have lived their lived for thousands of years in the same location, the southwest of Africa. It is here, where these strong kinship systems have taken place for these thousands of years, which has impacted their lives in many ways. The San, of the Kalahari Desert, have been known as the best hunting and gathering communities in the modern world. They also operate with behaviors of reciprocal exchange, which is commonly found in band societies. Reciprocity, is a mutual, agreed-upon exchange of goods and services, which is a major function in this type of society, making it easier as to not spoil foods or meat among their kinship. If a man were to go out and kill a large animal, his immediate family would...
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