Eating Christmas in the Kalahari

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Stephanie Funk Eating Christmas in the Kalahari Sociology 111-03C 9-20-2012 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, individuals who celebrate this holiday feel Christmas is supposed to be the day of friendship and brotherly love. 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. Naive realism is the tendency to believe our culture mirrors a reality shared by everyone. Eating Christmas in the Kalahari” by Richard Lee, shows not only how tough it is for an ethnographer to get away from his own beliefs, but it also gives us an example of how personal interpretations can interfere between people. At the very beginning, Lee said himself that he came “to the Kalahari to study the hunting and gathering subsistence economy of the! Kung Bushmen,” for that reason, Lee should have known how they interact with each other and what Christmas meant to them. Lee thought that the ox that he bought couldn’t be better. He was just perfect for him, fatty with a lot of meat. It was the ideal gift to thank them during Christmas time. However, he became very disappointed when the tribe told him “Do you expect us to eat that bag of bones?” although “It looked enormous” to him. At no time he thought that the problem might be something within him “Are you out of your mind?” When he realized the joke “Yes, when a young man kills such meat he comes
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