Instructions How to Write

Mbuti People

Using specific examples from Colin Turnbull’s The Forest People, evaluates if the Mbuti are or aren’t a typical hunting/gathering society. Answers that do not include specific examples from the ethnography will not receive credit.

a) Begin your essay with a sentence in which you state – yes or no – if the Mbuti are a typical or atypical foraging population If you think they are typical in some ways or atypical in others, state that. Do not provide examples here.

b) Give an overview of the Mbuti’s location. What country do they live in, and what part of that country do they live in? How is this environment typical or atypical of where one would find contemporary hunters and gatherers?

c) Using specific names and incidents from the book and your knowledge of the forager lifestyle, you’ll discuss the Mbuti economy, means of maintaining order, religious beliefs or practices, and social/kinship systems.

1) Turnbull consistently describes the Mbuti as “the people of the forest”? Provide two examples to explain how the Mbuti’s economic activities -- hunting and gathering actions -- are representative of or different to the forager lifestyle.
Make sure to discuss what is hunted or gathered by men and women.

2) What is the Mbuti economic relationship with their Bantu neighbours like? What is exchanged. Do the Mbuti see these as even reciprocal exchanges, or does one group have an advantage over the other?

3) Give two concrete examples of their kinship relations. This can include marriage, siblings, parent/child, etc.

4) Provide two examples of ways that Mbuti resolve conflicts or make decisions. How are or aren’t these typical of a foraging lifestyle?

5) Give a concrete example of Mbuti rites of passage for men, and how this compares to the ceremonies with the Bantu.

6) What is the molima ritual, and why is it significant? Does this seem like a “typical’ ritual that foragers would engage in? Why or why not?

7) End with a concluding sentence about what you gained from reading this ethnography.

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