Category: Comparison Essay

The three communities under study might at first be seen as unrelated profiles other than belonging in a southern part of the respective country as an indigenous populace, thus tentatively referring to the emerging half of the ‘North-South’ dichotomy. The present account is aimed at comparing and contrasting the three traditional setups toward a set of crucial implications that might carry over to more generalized contexts. It will be shown how the institutional, as opposed to market-driven incentives as well as impacts, have resulted in very different developmental scenarios despite common mechanisms and a uniform sustainability agenda that might potentially apply. The coverage will demonstrate how the standalone issues, e.g. of market or institutional dominance versus their preponderantly negative or positive effect, are closely intertwined and can hardly be treated independently.

San Bushmen of Kalahari

San or Saan could be seen as referring to the hunter-gathering profile, with Bushmen being a generic cognate that is more European than authentic in nature. In a sense, both names might be seen as inferior alternates, as neither one was a matter of self-reference from day one. On the other hand, San would seem less of a misnomer, when referring to a broad ethnic and cultural aggregate by the socioeconomic status or path.

Calculate the price

Calculate the price


It should be safe, as a first iteration, to view this San society of Kalahari desert as one living in harmony and building on strong informal ‘social networks’ that have nothing to do with digital technology or indirect media per se. Social interaction, as well as the capital, may have been so intense as to imply cohesion and preference for cooperative rather than competitive developmental equilibria. Although this community might incur heavy losses in terms of the opportunity forgone by failure to make full use of free and complete markets, still the leisure spared may have been placed a far greater value on, with an eye on self-actualization and stimulating social exposure.

Needless to say, this is where the core clash lies in, as the Western counterparts may have espoused second thoughts as to which ways the host environments should best attempt, with inherent segregation or divide driving the bulk of convergence mechanisms (Watson, 2013). Among other things, market economy and possibly democracy would soon be ushered in—predictably at odds with the local preferences, institutional legacy, and consent rather than weak majority-based social choice. In fact, it is by overlooking strong preferences and enforcing weak coalitions (that are inherently unstable, defecting, or corrupt) that the Botswana government was at one point engaged in seeing the San community displaced and relocated into reservations on a dubious claim of its long attempted switch into settled farming and mainstream infrastructural planning.

In fact, the very nature of property rights enforcement, as well as bargaining over these issues, has long been obscure or ill-defined by the very design of colonial and neo-colonial lawmaking and enforcement. Whereas, according to the English or US common law, the incumbent host or defendant would have every title to it’s sustained, historically practiced customs and modes of living, that need not hold in overseas jurisdictions—much less in ones having little to no bargaining power as immunity against manipulative abuse.

It is no wonder that far from all of the displaced San hunter-gatherers were allowed to move back legally, as some of the government’s as well as Westerners’ property rights had by then evolved over a time span, too. Moreover, moving on to infringing on rights to natural resources and derivative or related intellectual property rights such as patents and trademarks was a natural next step in privatizing the San area plants to be used as medicines or obesity remedies. The silver lining could be about the fact that some reward sharing was bargained into and brokered, which could be made into a precedence to inform further conflict resolution or lawmaking.

In effect, on the pretext of securing a superior growth and development trajectory for the Sam people over the long haul, a major assault on their long-standing institutions was flagged with an eye toward the short-term windfall gains that accrued as a major ordeal to the folk under study. Worse yet, the overall negative impact or spillover had to do with effective destruction of a uniquely authentic culture that had long amounted to an anthropological gem.


The indigenous narratives spanning the colonial era likewise features the sad stories of ‘raid over trade,’ lost primordial harmony, and a ghettoized culture as the flipside of the mainstream iron cage. The bulk of that could apply to the Amazonian Yanomamo (or Yanomami) case largely the way it does to South Africa’s San, with the only major qualification being that no such harmony is perceived in the literature. By and large, this society has long been seen as a proverbially violent arrangement, with excessive cruelty appearing so abnormal within as well as outside it that forced institutional upheaval is seen as less of an awkward agenda. Somewhat superficially, then, Yanomamo could be viewed as San’s direct opposite for most practical purposes.

What is missing in this attitude is a willingness to appreciate the context or indeed the causality of the escalatory spiral that may or may not has shaped the institutions and socioeconomic designs accordingly. For one, a straightforward thought experiment or historical reconstruction could allow one to envisage how a desperate society reacts to a warp in their domain and standard of living—perhaps not so much with the advent of the European alternatives as it was during the more recent garimpeiro miner raids in the early 1990s.

It may well be that, unlike other indigenous tribes, Yanomamo (or Guaharibo authentically) could be neither bribed nor otherwise liaised into Western coalitions, which failed to cooperate came at a cost. On the other hand, even if there is little about the institutional underpinning or culture that could have stressed inferior equilibria over the optimal ones, the game may early on have collapsed to something affording second-bests only. It remains to be seen whether that excuses home violence, yet that propensity may not be rare-to-find elsewhere in emerging or ‘high-context’ societies while tending to aggravate out West as well, e.g. amidst recessions or crises.

Much controversy has persisted throughout the San an