thomas w kavanagh (tkavanag@INDIANA.EDU)
Mon, 18 Mar 1996 22:28:46 -0500

On a more detailed reading of Richard Lee's "The !Kung San," I came
across the following passage:

The concept of *mode of production* includes political as well as
economic dimensions. The discussion to follow applies to hunting and
gathering peoples organized as bands: the !Kung, Mbuti, and Hadza in
Africa; the Indians of the Great Basin, the Dene and Cree of sub-Arctic
Canada; the Inuit, the Australian aborigines as well as other peoples
of similar technology and organization. It does not apply to groups
such as the Northwest Coast Indians, who, strictly speaking, lived by
hunting and gathering (and fishing) but who were organized politically
into chieftainships with highly developed systems of production and
stratification. [Lee 1979:117]

So what is it that distinguishes Lee's "band" foragers (!Kung, etc) from
other foragers such as the NWC foragers (and other chiefdoms [or at least
from other redistribution-based political-economic systems such as the
Plains hunters, both Pre and post horse?]) and thereby from conclusions
about the nature of foraging society in general?

Is Lee stacking the deck towards a particular view of foragers by limiting
the comparison to only those foragers who live in particularly harsh

How valid is Lee's proposition that "The concept of *mode of production*
includes political as well as economic dimensions" if that proposition
limits the political dimension to only bands?