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The Dobe Ju/'Hoansi (Case Studies in Cultural Anthropology) 3rd Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0155063334
ISBN-10: 0155063332
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Editorial Reviews


Preface to the Fourth Edition. 1. The Ju/'hoansi. 2. The People of the Dobe Area. 3. Environment and Settlement. 4. Subsistence: Foraging for a Living. 5. Kinship and Social Organization. 6. Marriage and Sexuality. 7. Complaint Discourse: Aging and Caregiving among the Ju/'hoansi. 8. Conflict, Politics, and Exchange. 9. Coping with Life: Religion, World View, and Healing. 10. The Ju/'hoansi and Their Neighbors. 11. Perceptions and Directions of Social Change. 12. The Ju/'hoansi Today. 13. Tsumkwe at 50: The 2010 Social Survey of a Namibian Ju/'hoansi Town. 14. Anthropological Practice and Lessons of the Ju/'hoansi. Postscript: The /Gwihaba Dancers. Appendix A: Eating Christmas in the Kalahari. Appendix B: The Kalahari Debate: Ju/'hoan Images of the Colonial Encounter. Glossary of Ju/'hoan and Other Non-English Terms. Films of the Ju/'hoansi: An Annotated List. References Cited and Recommended Readings. Index. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Richard Lee (B.A. and M.A., University of Toronto; Ph. D., University of California, Berkeley) is a professor of anthropology at the University of Toronto and a member of the faculty of the Centre for International Health. He has held academic appointments at Harvard, Rutgers, and Columbia Universities, and research positions at Stanford, the Australian National University, and Kyoto University. His current research interests include the social and cultural aspects of HIV/AIDS, human rights and indigenous peoples, critical medical anthropology gender relations, and the politics of culture. He is internationally known for his studies of hunting-and-gathering societies, particularly the Ju/hoansi-!Kung San of Botswana. His book the !Kung San (1979) was honored by inclusion on a list of the 100 most important works of science of the 20th century by the journal American Scientist (1999, November). A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and past president of the Canadian Anthropology Society, Dr. Lee has been awarded honorary doctorates by the University of Alaska and Guelph University for his research and advocacy on behalf of indigenous peoples.
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Product Details

  • Series: Case Studies in Cultural Anthropology
  • Paperback: 249 pages
  • Publisher: Wadsworth Publishing; 3rd edition (February 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0155063332
  • ISBN-13: 978-0155063334
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Viles on April 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
Richard Lee's ethnography The Dobe Ju/'hoansi is a detailed account of the culture and history of the Ju/'hoan people living in the Dobe area of southern central Africa. The book illustrates both the rich history of the Ju and how the traditions of the past are central in the present, but also the problems facing the Ju/'hoansi as they move toward the future.
The first half of Lee's ethnography focuses mainly on the past and the "present", circa the 1960s, when Lee himself spent time living with the Ju/'hoansi, a practice known as participant observation. The first major element Lee expounds upon is the harsh environment in which the Ju live. The climate consists of very warm, rainy summers (86-104 degrees Fahrenheit) contrasted against moderate, cool winters with no rainfall at all. Because the amount of precipitation can vary as much as 500 percent (Lee 29), droughts are frequent. The severe weather patterns combined with the unforgiving Kalahari Desert influence all other parts of the Ju/'hoansi way of life.
The Ju people are classified by archeologists as hunters and gatherers, moving around multiple times per year instead of living in permanent settlements. Skilled adults can identify as many as 100 species of edible plants (Lee 43) and can "deduce many kinds of information about the animal he is tracking: its species and sex, its age, how fast it is traveling, etc" (Lee 50). The author discovered that the Ju only have to work about 20 hours per week to hunt or gather enough food to sustain the population (Lee 54). I was amazed at this statistic, having previously thought that hunting and gathering took up many more hours per week to feed an entire band.
Lee moves on in the ethnography to discuss the intricate kinship connections the Ju share.
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By Raman on March 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
I read this book while taking an undergraduate sociocultural anthropology class. Several years later, it still stands out in my mind as a crisp, fair ethnography in a field full of opaque and often pejorative books.

Richard B. Lee's accomplishment here is to balance a scientific and human approach. Realizing how strongly a physical environment can impact a culture, Lee smartly and dispassionately details the basic facts of the Ju/'Hoansi's past and current situation - the geography and ecology of their home in the Kalahari desert, their food supply, etc. On this canvas, he paints a picture of the culture of this people. This sweeps from the physical layout of their camps to their language (including a thorough exposition of those interesting click consonants) to their handling of mortality and sexuality to the privileges and "complaint discourse" of older members of the society. Then Lee qualifies this whole portrait by describing recent developments, including enroachment of other cultures, erosion of the traditional lifestyle, and the dispossession and advocacy that has defined the Ju's recent relationships with the Namibian and Botswanan governments.

What amazed me about all this is that Lee remains tenderly human during this rich exposition. He writes of the Ju with great respect and humbly describes vigniettes of his interaction with his subjects - like when he got his pet name and when he had crushes on various native women. He avoids sentimental exoticism when describing how the culture began to fall apart due to pressures on their territory from Black herders. Instead, he documents the painful transition with precision and observational detail and even finds sources of hope.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A thorough and informative ethnography that is absolutely packed with fascinating and comprehensive information that is revealing and leaves one with a sense of getting to know the people under study.
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Format: Paperback
Richard Lee's case study examines the lives of the Ju/'hoansi culture by going to the people themselves, asking about their past, while simultaneously investigating their present. The Ju/'hoansi or "Ju" live around the Adobe water holes, in Botswana, which stretch 3,000 square miles. Nearby tribes included from Herero and Tswana, who were Bantu speakers. These tribes had a distinct appearance and an utterly unheard of way of life. Geographically, the Dobe region incorporated four types of habitats- dunes, flats, melapo, and hardpan & river valleys. There are five major seasons, and droughts occur quite frequently and mongongo is the major plant food in the Dobe area. The Ju people live in grass huts formulated in a circle, creating miniature villages. These villages are easy to set up and relocate because they change locations depending on the season. They are comprised of 5 rings; each ring represented a different function to the village in order to keep daily life smooth running. The first part of the novel conveys an idea, in which the Ju ancestors were hunter-gatherers, or foragers, and that the Europeans came to their land in attempt to colonize them. Along with the Europeans, the Tswana herders were among the first to penetrate the area, and it is said that the Ju incorporated their political system.
Throughout the book, Lee portrays accounts referring to his personal experiences in Botswana. The story that is most prominent describes how Lee took a select few of the tribe to a mongongo grove so the people could pick nuts. And they did- they pick enough food to tame the hunger of ten people for fourteen days. This is extremely significant because the action of these individuals is the quintessence of what a hunger-gatherer really is.
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