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Eating Christmas in the Kalahari

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Autor:   •  February 11, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  1,066 Words (5 Pages)  •  936 Views

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The sources of cultural misunderstanding made by the anthropologists in the readings from Spradley and McCurdy are affected by many factors including naive realism, culture shock and fully understanding what is culturally and ethically appropriate. Naive realism is the belief that people see the world in the same way, and culture shock is a condition of confusion and feelings of loneliness and anxiety experienced by someone suddenly entering a new culture. "Eating Christmas in the Kalahari" by Richard Lee is a perfect example of naive realism. Lee thought that Christmas would be seen throughout the world in a similar manner. As Lee stated, individual who celebrate this holiday feel "Christmas is supposed to be the day of friendship and brotherly love"(Lee, Eating Christmas in the Kalahari pg 20). Therefore, Lee wanted to give a gift out of the spirit of Christmas. The !Kung feel individuals' should be humble about gift giving. If you are not modest, they will knock your ego down a few notches. Even though Lee's feelings were hurt in this situation, it only occurred because of the cultural misunderstanding between Lee and the !Kung. The meaning of giving for the !Kung is dramatically different, than Lee has ever experienced. The basis of the misunderstanding for Laura Bohannan in "Shakespeare in the Bush" is her own naive realism. Naive realism is the tendency to believe our culture mirrors a reality shared by everyone(Bohannan, Shakespeare in the Bush pg 23). The problem that occurs in this article is Bohannan attempts to retell the story of Hamlet. Bohannan encounters different interpretation by the Tiv elders, when it came to certain climatic events and particular motives by the characters in Hamlet. For example the one important event in the story for most individuals is the fact that Hamlet's father appears as a ghost and tells Hamlet to avenge his death. The Tiv elders can't understand the concept of a ghost. From the beginning of her story, the elders take it apart and view the story from their own cultural acceptances. Before long, Bohannan realized that depending on your cultural outlook everyone views their reality differently. Lessons from the field by George Gmelch, show examples of students having a slight touch of culture shock. Culture shock happens to many anthropologist and many students who study aboard (Cultural Anthropology pg34). By the time the students were introduced to their families, they were already judging the Barbadian culture by the standards of their own. The students were also trying to adjust to the darkness and all the critters they would hear at night. In Conformity and Conflict Matthews Hamabata learns "The Art of Gift Giving in Japan," he is insulted by the grandness of Mrs. Itoos gift. Hamabata learned about the complex forms of gift giving in Japan. He didn't realize this is the way Japanese people show gratitude.

"Cultural anthropologist conduct research by doing fieldwork and using its characteristic method called participant observation"(Cultural Anthropology pg48) Researchers trained in cultural anthropology use different methods when they study other cultures. Cultural anthropologists often live for months or years with the people they study. This is called fieldwork. The main method of anthropological research involves long-term, direct observation


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