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Eating Christmas in the Kalahari - Research Paper Example

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In his article, “Eating Christmas in the Kalahari 1969” Richard Borshay Lee narrates a story of how he spent his three years with the “Kung San Bushmen” During this period, Richard highlights some of the customs he noted such as how the society celebrated Christmas and exchanged gifts…
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Eating Christmas in the Kalahari
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Eating Christmas in the Kalahari 28th, August, In his article, “Eating Christmas in the Kalahari 1969” Richard Borshay Lee narrates a story of how he spent his three years with the “Kung San Bushmen” During this period, Richard highlights some of the customs he noted such as how the society celebrated Christmas and exchanged gifts. This article affirm how tough it is to interact with people of different beliefs and how its personal interpretation can differ between people. In the introductory, the author highlights his reason to visit Kalahari as to research hunting along with the economy of the Kung Bushmen. Despite having this aim, Richard failed to understand what Christmas season meant in the Kalahari. For that reason, he was disappointed by what was going on as he had no clue of what Christmas meant to these people and some of the customs practised. His expectations were shattered as the tribe disagreed with his beliefs. The author forgot what he had learnt in his ethnography that people differ in culture and all should be respected regardless of their differences. There were differences of what Christmas meant to each season in that Richard’s culture believed in gift giving while Kalahari people opposed the idea. The author was shocked with the culture differences of what Christmas season meant to his culture and that from Kalahari. From his point of view, Christmas was the time of friendship and exchange of gifts where people appreciate one another after a long journey of twelve months. Suddenly, the culture of King Bushmen appeared unfamiliar and unknown to him as there were many differences from his culture. This occurrence reinforces the idea of cultural relativism whereby by it was difficult for the author to forget his culture and values but easy to misunderstand Kalahari’s culture. In discussing this, we will discuss how the author became subjective rather than being objective to understand what was happening. Looking at cultural relativism, views of all customs, ethics, and beliefs should be considered right as it is prohibited to judge another culture. Miscellany of cultures should not be considered good or bad rather should be neutral by grasping the concept that all cultures are essential in expressing human existence. In cultural relativism, there is nothing good or bad thus they are all either good or bad culture. Its objective is that no culture is social solidarity or superior to another as all are equally legitimate. In anthropology, one cannot resist to observe differences of cultures in the world in different ways such as dress code, seasons celebration, and food just to name a few. This diversity is elaborated by the subject cultural relativism. The aim of cultural relativism is that there is no definitive aspect of judging culture as wrong or right. The culture misunderstanding made by Richard is an ideal instance of naive pragmatism. He thought that Christmas would be celebrated and viewed in a similar manner to his culture. As stated in the article, Richard believed that Christmas is the best time to exchange gifts but Kalahari’s people felt it is the time to be meek about the gift exchange. Richard thought that these people thought him as stupid in giving gifts, as this was not valued in this culture. His cross-cultural lessons of the Kung are that there were not generous at all. He makes the readers believe that the Kung failed to appreciate his generosity though it was because of his selection of an ox that created confusion of the profound explanation of Christmas season. It looked enormous to offer such a gift and as indicated in the article, these people were surprised of the author three years staying yet he learnt nothing about the cattle. To the author, he believed that choosing the strongest animal is the best gift one could offer which was misunderstood in Kalahari culture. He was shocked to be informed that the society had no interest of his gift and thus requested him to kill and serve it and expect no dancing thereafter. On hearing this, Richard became disappointed as he could not understand why the culture had such bad beliefs. In his three years spent, the author forgot how cultural anthropologist carries out their research in the fieldwork using various methodologies such as participant observation. They use various methods in studying other culture. The author lacked participant observation that entails direct observation and participation of another culture. In Participant observation, anthropologists get a chance to study people’s beliefs, as they understand why they do such. Following this, Richard forgot to take participant observation whereby instead of studying Kalahari culture, he misjudged and misunderstood it. With this in mind, he forgot what he had learnt in his ethnography but kept observing the bad things about the”Kung Bushmen.” Conclusion After reading this article, I have grasped important facts about culture relativism. It has enabled me to articulate the importance of understanding different culture without weighing so much on its strengths or weaknesses. Indeed, it is obvious that one cannot be familiar with a different culture rather should carefully understand different beliefs and the reason for it. In doing this, it obligated that one should stay for a certain period studying the society through participant observation. As discussed in this paper, Richard is a perfect instance of how people misunderstand different culture without grasping the concept of why they do what they do or why they have such customs. Therefore, this paper has reinforced the idea of cultural relativism through analyzing the article “Eating Christmas in the Kalahari” by Richard Borshay Lee. References Lee, R. B. (2004). Eating Christmas in the Kalahari. Retrieved from: http://windward.hawaii.edu/facstaff/dagrossa-p/articles/EatingChristmas.pdf Read More
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