John Marshall's Kalahari family

Author/Creator ORCID




Towson University, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice


Citation of Original Publication

Matthew Durington. (2004). John Marshall’s Kalahari Family. American Anthropologist, (3), 589. Retrieved from



Throughout his career and through his films, John Marshall has embodied many representational debates in anthropology and ethnographic media production. With "A Kalahari Family," Marshall has provided his most reflexive film to date as well as a comprehensive visual record of 50 years of transition among the Ju/'hoansi, from lingering, hunter-gatherer subsistence to problematic and often tragic contemporary living conditions. "A Kalahari Family" bears witness to the negative effects a racist ideology and varied development agendas have had on an indigenous group of people, and the transformative effects they continue to have. In the film, the audience also witnesses the evolution of John Marshall himself, from naïve, inexperienced teenager engaging an exotic other, with all the inherent cultural baggage of a Western perspective, to his eventual emergence as a filmmaker and a dedicated advocate for the people with whom he has become so involved.