anthropology essay

hello everyone, i have anthropology essay i attached a DOX explains all the requirements of the essay. the book name – NISA (by shostak , marjori ; Nisa edition : 1st Harvard university )


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Nisa essay prompt
Shostak wanted to do more than provide ethnographic insight into San culture by doing life history
interviews with San women. She wanted to create a comparative case study of the lives of women in
egalitarian foraging bands with other kinds of social structures, particularly our own. In this essay I am
having you compare and contrast two San cultural patterns around sexuality and male/female
relationships with the same two from your own culture.
Remember to work with the text very closely. You can do a rough general sketch of our own culture but
be specific when using Shostak’s book. Choose at least two quotes from the book with APA citations
and include a bibliography. I have these points numbered separately but I want the final form to be a
five paragraph essay. The key is to keep it tight and focused on the topic with specific examples.
1) Describe Kung San gender roles in one paragraph. Use the parts of the book that give an
overview of San culture summarized from the ethnographic research done by others. The
general idea is that men and women have nearly the same amount of control over the direction
of their lives, access to material goods like food, and influence in the group, a very rare gender
situation in the world today.
2) Describe the gender roles in US society in one paragraph. Focus on social structure issues like
access to power in government, money, work, and family. Try to mirror the same points as you
did in the San paragraph above it.
3) Choose two topics to compare and contrast:
childhood sexuality : in their culture its expected, here its deeply taboo
attitudes about girls first period and puberty
attitudes about ‘virginity’ and sexual experience/skill
marriage: how a spouse is chosen, the marriage ritual, the duties and roles of each spouse
childbirth, birth control, child spacing between pregnancies
care of babies, raising of children
sex outside of marriage, taking lovers, the meaning and role of sex in adult lives
sex talk and joking about sex between men and women: in their culture its usually friendly and
enjoyed by both sexes, in ours its considered threatening and harassing
safety of women in their home and in public space
4) Conclusion – what is there to learn by doing this kind of ethnographic case study comparison?
Notes on Nisa reading
Why is did the reviewer call it a ‘bio-graphy’
• Shostak is trying to get a biographical account of universal female human embodied experiences like
menstruation, sex, birth control and child spacing, birth, child rearing, and menopause because the San
people had already been studied by biological anthropologists who collected data about nutrition, growth,
hormonal balance, and average ages of various biological life events.
• The San were some of the easiest people to work with in the world who were still foragers living in bands.
The fascination for biological anthropologists was the connection to human evolutionary history – humans
lived in foraging bands for most of their species history and so did all hominid ancestors of humans. The idea
would be that people like the San could tell us something about ‘natural’ human life.
• At the time in 1971 there was also general interest in the roles of men and women and the ‘nature’ of sex and
gender. Was patriarchy universal? And if it is so common now, why is that?
• Excellent ethnographic work about these people already existed, so she wanted a different approach that
would capture the personal voice of one person.
How did Nisa herself shape the text?
• Shostak got resistance from most of the women she wanted to use
for her life history interviews. They were not interested in the
biological timeline approach to their life stories, and did not really
understand what Shostak wanted from them in terms of narrative.
• Nisa figured out what Shostak wanted and added her own San style
to the story. Nisa loved talking about the things San people generally
like to talk about – sexual misadventures, families arguing, lovers
getting back together, funny stories about mistakes or
misunderstandings – but was not very interested in other things.
How representative are the San of foragers in
• From my own ethnographic reading, I would say ‘not very’. They are
all culturally quite different. Inuit people, for example, are very
serious about sex and marriage, and rarely joke around. They prefer a
calm, unruffled, emotionally restrained persona.
• It makes it questionable how much you can say about hominid
ancestors by studying the San if even today’s foragers are that
different from each other culturally.
• However, there are some biological anthropology findings that have
been important in understanding human health and psychological
What we have learned from foragers
• Our modern diet and lack of activity is destructive to health.
• Our posture and bodily locomotion in modern life are less healthy and
efficient than they could be.
• Too much fat and sugar in modern diets changes our hormonal profile
in dangerous ways. Its not just quantity of calories, its whats in it.
• Girls have started menstruating at around 12, and even 8 in some
places, while foragers menstruate at about 17. They menstruate
earlier on reservation diets though, its not genetic.
• We have a remarkable lack of human tactile contact in modern life.
• We rear infants with a dangerous lack of tactile contact in early life.
Baby trends – from anthropology!
Composition And Development Of The Ju/wasi
• Most Ju/wasi camps are organized
around brother–sister pairs who
claim ownership of a waterhole.
Composition And Development Of The Ju/wasi
• Brother and sister are joined at the
camp by their spouses and relatives
of their spouses.
• The nuclear family is the main
economic unit.
Composition And Development Of The Ju/wasi
• Bridegrooms join the camp of brides’
parents for brideservice.
Composition And Development Of The Ju/wasi
• Camp composition changes as a
result of changing social relations.
Marriage in the Ju/wasi Culture
• In the Ju/wasi culture, most
marriages are arranged by the
couple’s parents, and the bride to be
frequently objects to the chosen
spouse or to the prospect of
marriage itself.
Sex, Love, and Wealth Among the Ju/wasi
• Wealth plays virtually no part in the lives of the Ju/wasi, but, for
women especially, sex, love, and beauty are very important.
• A woman’s sexuality maximizes her independence.
• Sex attracts lovers, and a love relationship, being voluntary,
recognizes the equality of the participants.
Threats to the Ju/wasi Family
• The major threat to family stability among the Ju/wasi is conflict
between husband and wife over infidelity or the efforts of a husband
to secure a second wife.
• Men are allowed to have more than one wife (polygyny), and women
are permitted to have more than one husband (polyandry), though
this is rare.

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