ant250.docx - December 1 2008 ANT 250 Book Review Nisa and Return to Laughter At the time of Marjorie Shostaks first visit to Africa anthropological

ant250.docx - December 1 2008 ANT 250 Book Review Nisa and...

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December 1, 2008ANT 250Book ReviewNisa and Return to Laughter
At the time of Marjorie Shostak’s first visit to Africa, anthropological research had already been conducted on the !Kung way of life. However, Shostak was interested in the inner emotions of the !Kung peoples, in particular the women. She conducted her interviews during the Western Women’s movement and hoped to clarify some of the issues it had raised. Nisa’s stories are a first person account of what it was like to grow up in a hunter-gatherer society. Bowen’s objectives of her field study are to learn the language and to learn about the Tiv people. Bowen’s work is a compilation of fiction and real accounts of Laura Bohannen’s experiences in the Tiv village.The setting of Nisatakes place in the Dobe area, on the edge of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana. Shostak’s fieldwork began in 1969 and lasted for two years. She spoke to many people, encouraging open dialogue. Nisa struck her as the most interesting because of her gift for storytelling. Shostak was initially taken back and reluctant to trust Nisa when she shared her story of how her mother wanted to commit infanticide when Kumsa was born. Nisa becomes themain focus of the fieldwork and fifteen interviews are conducted with her. Shostak intended to reveal Nisa’s feelings as they pertained to marriage, relationships, family, and childbirth to name a few. The work is resumed in 1975 when Shostak returns to Nisa’s village.Nisa describes her experiences growing up in the bush. She has early memories of playing with her younger brother, Kumsa and experiencing sibling rivalry. She admires her older brother, Dau, who often protects her from her parents. Her sister, Kxamshe, dies from trembling sickness. Nisa recalls the celebrations when her father would return from a hunt with meat. She also remembers experiencing thirst during periods of drought. Nisa describes sex play and experimenting with Tikay. Sex play is common among !Kung children. At a very young age, they are cognizant of what their parents are doing under the sheets as they all sleep in the same hut.

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