Hunter/gatherer societies

photographer: Elmar Thiel © KALAHARI 650px-Kalahari_E02_00
By Elmar Thiel (photo taken by Elmar Thiel) [CC BY-SA 2.0 de, GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons
The photograph above is a beautiful scene of the Kalahari Desert in Namibia. The photographer really captured a gorgeous scene. While an undergrad in 2002, a professor in anthropology included a “true or false” question on a test. Question: “There are no longer any hunter/gatherers in the 20th century”. Well, of course, many of us chose “false”. Our reasoning was in consideration of peoples such as the Matise of west Brazil, the Dobe Ju/’Hoansi of the Kalahari Desert, and the San (Bushmen) of South Africa. These are but a few of the peoples who actually are still practicing hunting/gathering. True, far less than 100 years ago, but some do still exist.

Is this to say that all of these peoples have no contact with modern civilization, or that some of their people have not adapted some modern agricultural practices? Of course not. Some anthropologists consider the hunter/gatherer lifestyle to overlap with modern agriculture practices. There truly is a wide variety of opinions. Our problem with the test question is that stating “all or none” can be successfully contradicted. It requires only one instance to destroy this type of rationalization. We thought the professor would at least discuss some of the aforementioned societies in class, but he looked at us as if to convey, “who is teaching this class?” So, long story short, the professor would not allow credit for our “false” answer. What are your thoughts on the existance of hunter/gatherers?


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