N/om, Change, and Social Work: A Recursive Frame Analysis of the Transformative Rituals of the Ju/'hoan Bushmen

By Keeney, Hillary; Keeney, Bradford | The Qualitative Report, February 4, 2013 | Go to article overview

N/om, Change, and Social Work: A Recursive Frame Analysis of the Transformative Rituals of the Ju/'hoan Bushmen


Keeney, Hillary, Keeney, Bradford, The Qualitative Report


The Ju/'hoan Bushmen, or San, of Namibia and Botswana are sometimes characterized as a culture that emphasizes ambiguity and contradiction. What they articulate about important matters--whether it involves healing, storytelling, ritual, or myths of origin may on the surface appear to readily change with no apparent concern for alteration in either description or explanation. Guenther (1999, p. 246) proposes that this kind of thinking is "consistent with the mobility, openness, fluidity, flexibility, adaptability, and unpredictability of the forager's life." While acknowledging the unique challenge of trying to understand Bushman experience, our fieldwork finds that the Ju/'hoansi host a consistent worldview that is often outside the conceptual radar of conventional social science theory and practice. Bushmen emphasize shifting ways of being in the world and this dynamic provides an overarching contextual frame that helps clarify Bushman discourse. As the Ju/'hoan Bushmen come into contact with social service programs, social workers and other NGO professionals need to cultivate an appreciation for how members of this culture construe their life experience in a unique way, especially in matters that involve healing and help.

In this paper we demonstrate that the Ju/'hoansi account of First and Second Creation is used to contextually frame important matters in their life. Using Recursive Frame Analysis (Keeney, 1991; Chenail, 1995), we will outline the ways in which shifting frames move back and forth between contextualizing experience as inside First or Second Creation. This oscillation between two phenomenological worlds underlies Bushman experience, discourse, understanding, and performance. Our work is informed by an examination of their puberty rites, which have been rarely observed by anthropologists.

We find that these rites provide an exemplary way of making sense of their healing dance. In addition, we explore the way Bushman storytelling can be understood as a performance that emphasizes creative improvisation rather than narrated meaning. We address these experiential domains, demonstrating that they share the purpose of crossing the border between First and Second Creation, that is, the mythically connoted prelinguistic and linguistic ways of holding experience. In the shifting itself, what they regard as the changing or N!o'an-kal'ae that underlies life, is found n/om--the creative life force--which Bushmen value hunting in order to infuse their lives with vitality and inspired meaning. Following a brief discussion of First and Second Creation, a recursive frame analysis will map this border crossing so as to illuminate how previously assumed ambiguities actually are consistent and clear when seen as frame shifts rather than as static forms. We will propose that the Bushman way of utilizing narrative and ritual is arguably more complex and process oriented than the means through which social science narratives and descriptions are cast. We conclude with a brief discussion of some general implications for those offering mental health or social service programs with Ju/'hoan Bushman communities.

First and Second Creation: An Origin Myth that Inspires Bushman Performance

For two decades, we have conducted interviews with Bushman elders across Botswana and Namibia. Here we report the commentary of elders who reside at the Nyae Nyae Conservancy in Namibia. Interviews were mostly conducted between 2000-2012 (see Keeney, 1999; Keeney, 2002). Following years of establishing close relations with numerous members of several Bushman communities (that included being adopted and receiving Ju'/hoan names), we were accepted as members of their healing tradition and even called n/om-kxaosi. With this inclusion in their ritualistic life, we had conversations with elder healers in multiple roles including colleagues inside a healing fraternity and as scholars trying to understand the way they conceptualize their practice. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

N/om, Change, and Social Work: A Recursive Frame Analysis of the Transformative Rituals of the Ju/'hoan Bushmen
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.