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Eating Christmas in Kalahari

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Eating Christmas in the Kalahari
Alec Smith
Ivy Tech Community College
Sociology 111
November 8, 2014

Confusion in Cultures
The perception of foreign cultures can at times be quite peculiar. The article “Eating Christmas in Kalahari” by Richard Borshay Lee, foretells a classic example of cross culture misunderstanding when people from different cultures operate in a culturally unfamiliar environment. Richard Lee, a social anthropologist, explains what he learned living with the !Kung Bushmen, a South African tribe, for three years. This Gemeinschaft community of hunters-gatherers worked together to teach the anthropologist something important to their people, even though he was unaware of their intentions in the beginning. Although he believed he had learned a great deal from their group and culture, he was only beginning to truly learn what it meant to be a member of their society. This shows that one can sit and speculate on a society and their culture, but never truly know how they think, what they believe, or what is sacred to their people.
In the !Kung Bushmen culture it is a tradition for one of its members to slaughter an ox for the entire community to share and feast upon Christmas day, which follows with dancing and celebrations. It was a very sacred tradition. In compensation for all the insight, cooperation, hospitality, as well as his frowned upon image of power, Richard volunteered himself as the member to find the best ox he could find. He spent a great deal of time and effort trying to find an ox that would sufficiently feed the whole community for Christmas and their festive celebrations. After seeing an ox of ideal size, he brought it back only to be laughed at for choosing such an “old” and “thin” ox. One woman even ridiculed him by asking, “Do you expect us to eat that bag of bones?” He was very confused because he thought the ox...

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