Re: Any thoughts?

Arthur L. Baron (abaron@STU.ATHABASCAU.CA)
Fri, 26 Jul 1996 14:27:51 MDT

Twenty years ago the South African Government would go to any length to prove
the !Kung to be subhuman by equating them with camels and probably other
animals, however it would be an interesting adaptation. I immediately thought
of the Inuit and any adaptive features northern peoples might have. I don't
know physio well enough to make an informed comment, but it is common knowledge
that northern peoples can consume far more fat than their southern cousins
without the high incidence of negative health problems. Could the !Kung have
an adaptive feature that helps avoid dehydration - I don't know.

> This summer I have run into an interesting, if not amusing, discussion with
> another professor on my campus. The instructor who teaches human geography
> and I share several students this summer. In my class, I often hear from
> the students what they hear in geography that relates to we are discussing
> in intro cultural anthro. About a month ago, they came to me before class
> to ask if what they heard in geography was true. It seems that our
> geographer lectured on how southern African Bushman have enlarged buttocks
> so they can store water like camels for travelling across the desolate
> landscape.
> Now, I have had several conversations with this geographer regarding his
> comments and have checked a few sources of my own to brush up on Bushman
> anatomy and physiology. But I would love to hear how others might have
> approached this situation. By the way, he does not see his comments as
> being in the least bit distasteful or incorrect. In fact, he says he
> visited Capetown twenty years ago and saw an exhibit in the Natural History
> Museum there that supports his information.
> Any thoughts?
> Joyce Lucke
> Department of Anthropology
> Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus
> 4601 Central Avenue
> Columbus, IN 47203-1769
> 812-372-8266/800-414-8782