Kung Life: An Ethnography by Majorie Shostak

1023 Words5 Pages
The many ethnographies produced from the fieldwork of anthropologist, account for much of our knowledge of cultures we may consider foreign of our own. Ethnographies are often written to provide an understanding of the practices of the studied culture, thus bridging the gap between separate ways of life. Majorie Shostak is one of the well known anthropologist who attempts to do just this in her writings. During her stay in the Dobe regions of Botswana, she studied the life of !Kung women to find out if they share similar ideas to women of her own culture. She begun her research by emerging herself in anyway possible. She learns the language, lived among them in grass huts, and ate the foods they ate. She still remained unsatisfied and…show more content…
Most of her knowledge comes from her mother's account. An example of this is illustrated in her reflection about the process of being weaned, from her mother, in preparation for the nursing of her brother. She tries to explain how she felt at that moment but her young age would have prevented her from remembering those exact details. It is possible she uses what she observes on a daily basis with other young children to fill in the blanks of her own memories. Shostack herself says repeatedly that Nisa is a great storyteller and like many !Kung she often exaggerates. At last Nisa's, experiences with previous anthropologist like Richard and Nancy may have provided her with an advantage. She might have told a few exaggerated stories because she felt that's what Majorie wanted to hear, so she could receive her payment. If this is the case, some of her stories might not have happen the way they she claimed but it is not so far-fetched it couldn't have happened. Shostack interpreted her finding in an humanistic way but she could have adapted a materialistic view. For instance, the topics of male dominance and polgamy could have been further explored. From a materialistic viewpoint they could have been explained as males are better able to promote the growth of the hunter gather family rather than woman who experience menopause. The need to keep populating can also be used to explain why

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