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Cultural Analysis: !Kung San

Military
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Military influence on the !Kung

It is believed that the !Kung people are generally pacifists, and therefore have no formal or informal military system.12 This became a problem in the 1980's as the expansion of military activities of the South African Defense Force began to encroach into their lands. A military base was established in Tsum!kwe which started recruiting local San into what was called the Bushman Battalion 36.6

As time went on, !Kung as well as rival San groups who generally stayed apart from each other were brought to Tsum!kwe, increasing population density levels and posing threats of inter-ethnic conflicts. Fueled by overpopulation, poverty and alcohol consumption, arguments and fighting were commonplace.6


Functionalist Perspective

For the !Kung culture, a military makes absolutely no sense. With a community of only 10-30 people and living in a harsh environment like the Kalahari desert, time is better spent foraging or bonding with each other. External to the !Kung society, the military serves as one of the basic blocks for the destruction of a culture.

Conflict Perspective

Because no military existed with the !Kung, the only conflict in this area is in dealing with external non-San cultures. These external cultures have used their military forces to take over areas of the !Kung lands and force them to either join the military or live in the new settlements. Both choices mean drastic changes to the !Kung.

Symbolic Perspective

There were no symbols related to military in the !Kung culture, as they lived as pacifists. More recently, the military probably represent the destruction of their way of life. With the military came more settlement, more alcoholic dependencies, more depression, more poverty all at the cost of less self identity.



This site was created for SOCIOLOGY 1 SEC DE1 (21594) FALL 2005.