Wrong Term for the Kalahari's People

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Craig Timberg's June 3 front-page article, "A Culture Vanishes in Kalahari Dust; Bushmen Elders Resist Relocation in Botswana," was informative and thought-provoking, but unfortunately he used the term "Bushmen" throughout.

We are writing on behalf of our classmates in an international baccalaureate social/cultural anthropology class at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington; we have been studying the peoples of the Kalahari.

According to anthropologists Elizabeth Marshall Thomas and Richard Lee, the term "Bushmen" is pejorative and no longer accepted in the anthropological community. In his 1979 ethnography "The Kung San: Men, Women and Work in a Foraging Society," Mr. Lee wrote that "the term Bushmen has both racist and sexist connotations."

In addition, the Kalahari is inhabited by many different peoples, and they should be called by whatever name they give themselves. For example, this year we studied the specific Kalahari group living on the border of Botswana and Namibia who call themselves the Ju/'hoansi, or "the real people."




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