A vibrant portrait of the "original affluent society†?--the Bushmen of southern Africa--by the anthropologist who has spent much of the last twenty-five years documenting their encounter with modernity. If the success of a civilization is measured by its endurance over time, then the Bushmen of the Kalahari are by far the most successful in human history. A hunting and gathering people who made a good living by working only as much as needed to exist in harmony with their hostile desert environment, the Bushmen have lived in southern Africa since the evolution of our species nearly two hundred thousand years ago. In Affluence Without Abundance, anthropologist James Suzman vividly brings to life a proud and private people, introducing unforgettable members of their tribe, and telling the story of the collision between the modern global economy and the oldest hunting and gathering society on earth. In rendering an intimate picture of a people coping with radical change, it asks profound questions about how we now think about matters such as work, wealth, equality, contentment, and even time. Not since Elizabeth Marshall Thomas's The Harmless People in 1959 has anyone provided a more intimate or insightful account of the Bushmen or of what we might learn about ourselves from our shared history as hunter-gatherers.
WASHINGTON POST'S 50 NOTABLE WORKS OF NONFICTION IN 2017AN NPR BEST BOOK OF 2017A vibrant portrait of the "original affluent society"--the Bushmen of southern Africa--by the anthropologist who has spent much of the last twenty-five years documenting their encounter with modernity. If the success of a civilization is measured by its endurance over time, then the Bushmen of the Kalahari are by far the most successful in human history. A hunting and gathering people who made a good living by working only as much as needed to exist in harmony with their hostile desert environment, the Bushmen have lived in southern Africa since the evolution of our species nearly two hundred thousand years ago. In Affluence Without Abundance, anthropologist James Suzman vividly brings to life a proud and private people, introducing unforgettable members of their tribe, and telling the story of the collision between the modern global economy and the oldest hunting and gathering society on earth. In rendering an intimate picture of a people coping with radical change, it asks profound questions about how we now think about matters such as work, wealth, equality, contentment, and even time. Not since Elizabeth Marshall Thomas's The Harmless People in 1959 has anyone provided a more intimate or insightful account of the Bushmen or of what we might learn about ourselves from our shared history as hunter-gatherers.
A study of primitive people which, for beauty of...style and concept, would be hard to match." -- The New York Times Book Review In the 1950s Elizabeth Marshall Thomas became one of the first Westerners to live with the Bushmen of the Kalahari desert in Botswana and South-West Africa. Her account of these nomadic hunter-gatherers, whose way of life had remained unchanged for thousands of years, is a ground-breaking work of anthropology, remarkable not only for its scholarship but for its novelistic grasp of character. On the basis of field trips in the 1980s, Thomas has now updated her book to show what happened to the Bushmen as the tide of industrial civilization -- with its flotsam of property rights, wage labor, and alcohol -- swept over them. The result is a powerful, elegiac look at an endangered culture as well as a provocative critique of our own. "The charm of this book is that the author can so truly convey the strangeness of the desert life in which we perceive human traits as familiar as our own....The Harmless People is a model of exposition: the style very simple and precise, perfectly suited to the neat, even fastidious activities of a people who must make their world out of next to nothing." -- The Atlantic From the Trade Paperback edition.
In this provocative, wide-ranging book, Against the Grain, Richard Manning offers a dramatically revisionist view of recent human evolution, beginning with the vast increase in brain size that set us apart from our primate relatives and brought an accompanying increase in our need for nourishment. For 290,000 years, we managed to meet that need as hunter-gatherers, a state in which Manning believes we were at our most human: at our smartest, strongest, most sensually alive. But our reliance on food made a secure supply deeply attractive, and eventually we embarked upon the agricultural experiment that has been the history of our past 10,000 years. The evolutionary road is littered with failed experiments, however, and Manning suggests that agriculture as we have practiced it runs against both our grain and nature's. Drawing on the work of anthropologists, biologists, archaeologists, and philosophers, along with his own travels, he argues that not only our ecological ills-overpopulation, erosion, pollution-but our social and emotional malaise are rooted in the devil's bargain we made in our not-so-distant past. And he offers personal, achievable ways we might re-contour the path we have taken to resurrect what is most sustainable and sustaining in our own nature and the planet's.
"... a first-rate piece of scholarship... an invaluable summary and commentary on the multilingual literature on [Bushman] people." —Choice The trickster and trance dancer are the guides through Bushman (or San) religion, a world of ambiguity and contradiction, and of enchantment. The two figures, who in Bushman belief are symbolically equivalent and mystically linked, embody these antistructural traits.
"A special and rare kind of ethnography, skillfully blending detailed description of behavior with thoughtful commentary on theoretical issues. Exceptionally important and enduring."--Bruce Winterhalder, co-editor of Evolutionary Ecology and Human Behavior
An account of all the new and surprising evidence now available for the beginnings of the earliest civilizations that contradict the standard narrative Why did humans abandon hunting and gathering for sedentary communities dependent on livestock and cereal grains, and governed by precursors of today’s states? Most people believe that plant and animal domestication allowed humans, finally, to settle down and form agricultural villages, towns, and states, which made possible civilization, law, public order, and a presumably secure way of living. But archaeological and historical evidence challenges this narrative. The first agrarian states, says James C. Scott, were born of accumulations of domestications: first fire, then plants, livestock, subjects of the state, captives, and finally women in the patriarchal family—all of which can be viewed as a way of gaining control over reproduction. Scott explores why we avoided sedentism and plow agriculture, the advantages of mobile subsistence, the unforeseeable disease epidemics arising from crowding plants, animals, and grain, and why all early states are based on millets and cereal grains and unfree labor. He also discusses the “barbarians” who long evaded state control, as a way of understanding continuing tension between states and nonsubject peoples.
The San people were a South African tribe who lived in the scrubland and communicated in a distinct click language. During the nineteenth century they were labelled as sub-human and hunted as animals by the Boers and the British. sister-in-law Lucy Lloyd, befriended some San bushmen and gradually began to document their language, resulting in an extraordinary archive of material. beautiful rock art and powerful fables. The fables will run throughout the book.
The Navajo people of Canyon de Chelly must negotiate a delicate balance between the old and the new as they struggle to maintain their traditional ways of life in the midst of archaeologists, U.S. Park Service employees, and the increasing numbers of tourists who come to visit this hauntingly beautiful part of northeastern Arizona. Anthropologist-writer Jeanne Simonelli, who worked at Canyon de Chelly as a seasonal park ranger, interweaves stories of her personal experiences and friendships with canyon residents with discussions of native history and culture in the region. Focusing on the members of one extended Navajo family, Simonelli describes the small moments of their daily lives: shearing goats, baking bread, attending a solemn all-night health ceremony, washing clothes at the local laundromat, playing traditional games and contemporary sports, talking about the history of the Dinthe Navajo peopleand pondering the changes they have witnessed in the canyon and the difficulties they confront. Crossing Between Worlds is sumptuously illustrated with insightful black-and-white photographs that document the everyday activities of Navajo families in one of the most spectacular corners of the American Southwest.
The creators of this book searched the Kalahari thirstlands to find the few remaining Bushmen who still lived as their forefathers had done for the past 20,000 years. Their quest led them to a people who had never tried to conquer their environment, but had instead remained an integral part of it.
Will Randall travels with a purpose, as well as an outrageous sense of fortune. In INDIAN SUMMER he found himself, by chance, having the extraordinary experience of helping slum schoolchildren put on a play to help save their school. In Botswana he was taken up by a headmaster to teach a class of six year olds at The River of Life school. They are football crazy and one of Will's jobs is to take them to play neighbouring (sometimes as much as 100 miles away) schools. Camping en-route or staying in farms and rural villages, often travelling by foot or dug-out punts, thousands of antelope, elephant, buffalo and zebra follow their progress. The sound of lions, leopards and hyenas become the soundtrack of their dreams. Against all the odds they find themselves preparing for the Grand Final of the season - the titanic clash with arch rivals, Victoria Falls Primary school. Both an endearing personal story and a travel book about a little-known but highly successful country, BOTSWANA TIME will win new fans for both Will Randall and the extraordinary country of Botswana.
Tsodilo Hillsis a richly illustrated account one of the world's oldest and most beautiful historical sites: For 100,000 years, inhabitants of Botswana's Tsodilo Hills region left behind a record of their gathering wild foods, hunting, fishing, mining, rock painting, cattle herding, and metalworking, as well as of their participation in a coast-to-coast trade network. During the past 30 years, archaeologists, paleontologists, historians, and anthropologists have worked at Tsodilo. Here is the Tsodilo story, the Hills' revelations brought together in one volume, beautifully illuminated by more than 150 color plates and maps. For scientists, this work brings together decades of research at a site in the Kalahari that was virtually unknown until the late 1970s. Tsodilo Hillsalso offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of the Kalahari Desert to the general reader, as well as an unsurpassedguide to an extraordinary world to the desert's many tourists.
Goes to the heart of contemporary arguments about the "primitive" and the "modern" minds, and draws new social, anthropological, and ethnographic conclusions about the nature of ancient societies. How did ancient peoples—those living before written records—think? Were their thinking patterns fundamentally different from ours today? Researchers over the years have certainly believed so. Along with the Aborigines of Australia, the indigenous San people of southern Africa—among the last hunter-gatherer societies on Earth—became iconic representatives of all our distant ancestors and were viewed as either irrational fantasists or childlike, highly spiritual conservationists. Since the 1960s a new wave of research among the San and their world-famous rock art has overturned these misconceived ideas. Here, the great authority David Lewis-Williams and his colleague Sam Challis reveal how analysis of the rock paintings and engravings can be made to yield vital insights into San beliefs and ways of thought. This is possible because we possess comprehensive transcriptions, made in the nineteenth century, of interviews with San informants who were shown copies of the art and gave their interpretations of it. Using the analogy of the Rosetta Stone, the authors move back and forth between these San texts and the rock art, teasing out the subtle meanings behind both. The picture that emerges is very different from past analysis: this art is not a naive narrative of daily life but rather is imbued with power and religious depth.
Bushmen were hunting and gathering, painting and mining copper, thousands of years ago. They were the first people of Africa. Deadly shots with their bows and arrows, they were, in their heyday, Lords of the Desert. They fought extremely bravely for their land, and lost. Today, they have been reduced to an underclass - dispossessed, despised and degraded. Just in time - one is tempted to say, miraculously - the Mandela government saved them from extermination in South Africa. Now, in Botswana's Central Kalahari Game Reserve, set aside specially for them by the British in 1961, they are making their last stand, refusing to be evicted in order to benefit mining and tourism. Sandy Gall, who is best known for his reporting of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, has taken up the cause of the Bushmen. His interest in their plight dates back to the 1950s and 1960s when he was working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters; in 1999 he visited the Central Kalahari with his daughter Michaela. His book celebrates the culture of these unique people, many of whom have an almost mystical bond with animals. He has portrayed many fascinating individuals who have been involved, for good or ill, in their tragic history and their present predicament. Here, for the first time, is the full story of the slaughter of an innocent people. The Bushmen of Southern Africa speaks not only for the Bushmen but for the native indigenous people of the world. It faces up to a shameful and bloodstained past and looks at burning current issues such as human rights and the ownership and exploitation of land.
One of our most influential anthropologists reevaluates her long and illustrious career by returning to her roots—and the roots of life as we know it When Elizabeth Marshall Thomas first arrived in Africa to live among the Kalahari San, or bushmen, it was 1950, she was nineteen years old, and these last surviving hunter-gatherers were living as humans had lived for 15,000 centuries. Thomas wound up writing about their world in a seminal work, The Harmless People (1959). It has never gone out of print. Back then, this was uncharted territory and little was known about our human origins. Today, our beginnings are better understood. And after a lifetime of interest in the bushmen, Thomas has come to see that their lifestyle reveals great, hidden truths about human evolution. As she displayed in her bestseller, The Hidden Life of Dogs, Thomas has a rare gift for giving voice to the voices we don't usually listen to, and helps us see the path that we have taken in our human journey. In The Old Way, she shows how the skills and customs of the hunter-gatherer share much in common with the survival tactics of our animal predecessors. And since it is "knowledge, not objects, that endure" over time, Thomas vividly brings us to see how linked we are to our origins in the animal kingdom. The Old Way is a rare and remarkable achievement, sure to stir up controversy, and worthy of celebration.
One of the most popular anthropological case studies published in the last two decades, the latest edition of The Gebusi incorporates important new fieldwork, bringing ethnographic excellence and a riveting story fully up to date. Readers are welcomed into the lives of Papua New Guinea rainforest dwellers to witness a dramatic arc of cultural change and human transformation. When Knauft first studied them, Gebusi practiced powerful spirit séances and sorcery divinations, held resplendent initiations that included distinctive sexual customs, and endured high rates of violence. Sixteen years later, he found them participating in market activity, schooling, government programs, and sports; performing their own popular music; and practicing Christianity. More recently, Gebusi have been battered by economic hardship and withdrawal of government services—but have admirably revitalized their culture and livelihood. Sustained by traditions, access to land and waterways, and a keen sense of humor and vitality, Gebusi exhibit resilience and dignity amid conditions of continuing uncertainty and change. An absorbing, well-written, and humanistic account based on profound scholarship, The Gebusi, 4/E includes end-of-chapter “Broader Connections” that link Gebusi experiences to major anthropological topics—subsistence, kinship and marriage, politics, religion, gender and sexuality, ethnicity, nationalism, modernity, and the ethics of engaged and applied anthropology. A stunning full-color photo insert accentuates Knauft’s absorbing narrative. Callouts to instructional videos recorded with Gebusi and to an extensive online image bank on the author’s website further enrich the ethnography.
The first comprehensive presentation of the core teachings of the Kalahari Bushmen as told by the Tribal Elders • Reveals how the Bushmen are able to receive direct transmissions of God’s love for healing and spiritual transformation • Explores tribal legends and teaching tales, the importance of dreams and animals, and the origins of their dances, rituals, and ceremonies Step into the imaginative realm of one of the oldest continuous cultures on Earth, the Kalahari Ju/’hoansi Bushmen. Translated by Beesa Boo, a Bushman, and interspersed with detailed commentary from Bradford and Hillary Keeney, this book presents the core teachings of the Kalahari Bushmen as told by the tribal elders themselves. Decades in the making, it constitutes the first comprehensive work on the world’s oldest tradition of healing and spiritual experience. Told in their own words, these teachings reveal how the Bushmen are able to receive direct transmissions of God’s love in the form of the universal life force, n/om. The individuals who are filled with this force describe it as an awakened, energized feeling of love that inspires a spontaneous and heightened ecstatic awareness that opens mystical perception. Having your heart transfixed by this force enables true healing and spiritual growth to occur. Experiencing the force in your entire being, through a vision of “God’s egg”, awakens deep spiritual wisdom and extraordinary healing gifts. Those who “own the egg” are blessed with the ability to have direct communication with the Divine, a “rope to God,” and can communicate with others for all “ropes” are connected. Conveying the deep love that is the dominant emotion of Bushman spirituality, the book explores tribal legends and teaching tales, the importance of dreams and encounters with animals, the origins of their dances, such as the giraffe dance, and specific rituals and ceremonies, including puberty rites for boys and girls. “As the elder teachers of the Ju’/hoan Bushman (San) people, we hold the most enduring traditional wisdom concerning healing and spiritual experience. This book is a testimony of our ecstatic ways. We happily share our basic teachings about spirituality and healing with those whose hearts are sincerely open.”
Since its first publication over forty years ago Marshall Sahlins's Stone Age Economics has established itself as a classic of modern anthropology and arguably one of the founding works of anthropological economics. Ambitiously tackling the nature of economic life and how to study it comparatively, Sahlins radically revises traditional views of the hunter-gatherer and so-called primitive societies, revealing them to be the original "affluent society." Sahlins examines notions of production, distribution and exchange in early communities and examines the link between economics and cultural and social factors. A radical study of tribal economies, domestic production for livelihood, and of the submission of domestic production to the material and political demands of society at large, Stone Age Economics regards the economy as a category of culture rather than behaviour, in a class with politics and religion rather than rationality or prudence. Sahlins concludes, controversially, that the experiences of those living in subsistence economies may actually have been better, healthier and more fulfilled than the millions enjoying the affluence and luxury afforded by the economics of modern industrialisation and agriculture. This Routledge Classics edition includes a new foreword by David Graeber, London School of Economics.
The Company of Strangers shows us the remarkable strangeness, and fragility, of our everyday lives. This completely revised and updated edition includes a new chapter analyzing how the rise and fall of social trust explain the unsustainable boom in the global economy over the past decade and the financial crisis that succeeded it. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, history, psychology, and literature, Paul Seabright explores how our evolved ability of abstract reasoning has allowed institutions like money, markets, cities, and the banking system to provide the foundations of social trust that we need in our everyday lives. Even the simple acts of buying food and clothing depend on an astonishing web of interaction that spans the globe. How did humans develop the ability to trust total strangers with providing our most basic needs?