Anthropology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in BALANCING ACTS: WOMEN AND THE PROCESS OF SOCIAL CHANGE, edited by Patricia Lyons Johnson (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1992), pp. 7-41. Copyright 1992 Westview Press.


This chapter will examine the social and economic changes that !Kung women have experienced in the last seventy or so years by means of life history narratives collected from five older !Kung or "Zhun/wa" women, as the !Kung call themselves. The women whose stories form the basis of this report were all living in the western Kalahari Desert of Ngamiland, Botswana in 1987-88 when the author was carrying out anthropological field work. Many changes have affected the !Kung in the last several decades. A brief discussion of these changes is given below to provide a background for the interpretation of the women's narratives. The main purpose of the paper is to give the women's accounts the foreground and to let their own stories reveal how some of these events felt personally to women living through an historical period of great change.

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