Archives for posts with tag: democracy

i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again: stanley kurtz is a really, really smart guy. he’s especially smart when it comes to mating patterns and family types in the middle east/arab world and how those affect the social and political workings of the nations in those regions. which is why i had a little #StanleyKurtzFest to myself on twitter the other day. (^_^) and i thought i’d repeat it here.

kurtz trained as a social anthropologist (at harvard) and did his fieldwork in india, so he knows anthropology. he wrote several articles about mating patterns and things like democracy in the arabized world, some of them back before we got involved in iraq in the early 2000s, so the guy is aware. but EVERYthing he wrote back then still very much applies to iraq today, not to mention to afghanistan, syria, libya, egypt — in other words, the whole arab autumn movement.

i’m going to cut-and-paste some excerpts from his articles here, but i highly recommend clicking through and reading them all! the only aspect kurtz misses is, of course, the biological underpinnings for the behavioral patterns we see in the arab world — which is unfortunate, since the biology is fundamental to it all, but hey — nobody’s perfect! for the biological explanation (which you should hold in your mind the entire time while you’re reading kurtz — which you’re going to do, right? promise?!), you should see steve sailer’s classic Cousin Marriage Conundrum — and any random post on this blog. (~_^)

oh. one other thing that stanley — along with many others — gets wrong is the idea that people let go of their extended families if and when they have some sort of just state in charge that will take care of the rights of the individual. that is, imho, exactly backwards. states that are (more or less) of, by, and for the people only come into existence — can only come into existence — after a population has moved away from the extended family as the basic unit of society. there is evidence that this was the order of events in medieval england, and i’m betting that it will hold for elsewhere as well. more on all that another time.

right. here we go…

“I and My Brother Against My Cousin”
“Is Islam the best way to understand the war on terror? Tribalism may offer a clearer view of our enemies’ motivations.”
Apr 14, 2008

“In the Islamic Near East, however, the term ‘tribe’ has a fairly specific meaning. Middle Eastern tribes think of themselves as giant lineages, traced through the male line, from some eponymous ancestor. Each giant lineage divides into tribal segments, which subdivide into clans, which in turn divide into sub-clans, and so on, down to families, in which cousins may be pitted against cousins or, ultimately, brother against brother. Traditionally existing outside the police powers of the state, Middle Eastern tribes keep order through a complex balance of power between these ever fusing and segmenting ancestral groups.

“The central institution of segmentary tribes is the feud. Security depends on the willingness of every adult male in a given tribal segment to take up arms in its defense. An attack on a lineage-mate must be avenged by the entire group. Likewise, any lineage member is liable to be attacked in revenge for an offense committed by one of his relatives. One result of this system of collective responsibility is that members of Middle Eastern kin groups have a strong interest in policing the behavior of their lineage-mates, since the actions of any one person directly affect the reputation and safety of the entire group.

“Universal male militarization, surprise attacks on apparent innocents based on a principle of collective guilt, and the careful group monitoring and control of personal behavior are just a few implications of a system that accounts for many aspects of Middle Eastern society without requiring any explanatory recourse to Islam. The religion itself is an overlay in partial tension with, and deeply stamped by, the dynamics of tribal life….

“Looking at a political map of the Middle East, we tend to assume government control of the territories lying within all those neatly drawn borders. It is a serious mistake. As Salzman puts it, traditional Middle Eastern states are more like magnets, exerting force on territory near the center, while losing power with distance. The Ottoman Empire (and the British) ruled the tribes loosely, demanding an annual tribute but generally leaving them to govern themselves. To a remarkable extent, this holds true today. While the precise degree of centralized power ebbs and flows, tribes living in what are often quite large territories on national peripheries exist largely free of state power.

“Far from viewing this as a disability, Middle Eastern tribesmen consider life beyond the state as the surest way to avoid dishonorable submission. Statelessness is an essential condition of dignity, equality, and freedom. The traditional relation of the state to the peasant, notes Salzman, ‘is that of the shepherd to his flock: the state fleeces the peasants, making a living off of them, and protects them from other predators, so that they may be fleeced again.’ Salzman asks us to think of traditional states as ‘cliques determined to impose their power for the pleasure of dominance and the profit of extortion.’

“Saddam Hussein comes to mind. Not only was his regime exploitative, it was built around a tribal coalition, at the center of which was Saddam’s Tikriti clan. In the traditional system, says Salzman, states were bereft of any wider sense of civic responsibility or benevolence. Secure in distant mountains or deserts, traditional Middle Eastern tribes (like the Yahi in the hills of California) engaged in predatory raiding against settled peasants. Once a particularly powerful tribe or tribal coalition actually captured a state, they simply routinized their predation under official guise. (Saddam and his Sunni tribal allies fit the bill.) From that perspective, avoiding a life of peasant humiliation and exploitation through membership in an independent tribe begins to look good — endemic violence notwithstanding….”
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“Marriage and the Terror War, Part I”
“Better learn up on your anthropology if you want to understand the war.”
February 15, 2007

“In this first in a series of essays on Muslim cousin-marriage, I want to begin to make the case that Muslim kinship structure is an unexamined key to the war on terror. While the character of Islam itself is unquestionably one of the critical forces driving our global conflict, the nature of Islamic kinship and social structure is at least as important a factor — although this latter cluster of issues has received relatively little attention in public debate. Understanding the role of Middle Eastern kinship and social structure in driving the war not only throws light on the weaknesses of arguments like D’Souza’s, it may also help us devise a new long-term strategy for victory in the war on terror.

“Self-Sealing Society

Think of the culture of the Muslim Middle East as ‘self-sealing.’ Muslim society has a deep-lying bias toward in-group solidarity, the negative face of which manifests itself in a series of powerful mechanisms for preventing, coercing, or punishing those who would break with or undermine the in-group and its customs. This bias toward in-group solidarity serves to shelter Muslim society from interaction with the forces of modernity, and also explains why Muslim immigrants so often fail to assimilate. Of course, no society can function without some sort of ‘in-group solidarity.’ Yet the Muslim world is truly distinctive on this score. When it comes to the core principles of kinship, Muslim practices strengthen and protect the integrity and continuity of the in-group in a way that sets the Middle East apart from every other society in the world. To appreciate this fact, we’ve first got to understand some fundamental things about the nature of kinship.

“For the greater part of human history, nearly every society has been organized into units based on kin ties. Modern life greatly reduces the significance of these ties, since capitalism tends to allocate jobs based on ability (instead of who your father is), while democracies apply laws, and assign benefits, on the principle of equal citizenship (not birth). By contrast, in most traditional societies, a man’s security, health, prosperity, and religious standing all depend, first and foremost, on his relatives. So to understand the kinship structure of a traditional society is to make sense of a good deal of life there. Unfortunately, our contemporary thinned-out notion of kinship has made it tough to recognize just how profoundly societies are shaped by variations in marriage practices. That’s why we’re far more comfortable making sense of the war on terror through the lens of a familiar phenomenon like religion, than in the light of something alien, like cousin marriage….

“All right, let’s say we have a society made up of clans organized by descent through the father. (Imagine a grander version of your own father’s family line, or something like the Hatfields and McCoys.) In any given clan, the men all trace their descent from a common male ancestor. In such a society, a rule or preference for cross-cousin marriage would create a systematic form of exogamy. In other words, if every man in a patrilineal, clan-based society were to marry his mother’s brother’s daughter, every man would be marrying someone from a different clan. (For example, if you were to marry your own mother’s brother’s child, you would be marrying someone from outside of your father’s family line.) Since every man’s mother in our imaginary society is born into a different patriclan than his own, when a man marries the daughter of his mother’s brother (i.e., his cross cousin) he is renewing an alliance with another patriclan (i.e. his mother’s birth clan) by bringing a woman from his mother’s birth clan into his own clan as a wife, just as his father did before him.

“On the other hand, in a society made up of competing patriclans, a rule or preference for parallel-cousin marriage would have exactly the opposite effect. Parallel-cousin marriage would seal each and every clan off from all of the others. If, say, every man in a society made up of patrilineal clans was to marry his father’s brother’s daughter, every man would be married to a descendent of his own birth clan. (For example, if you were to marry your own father’s brother’s child, you would be marrying someone from within your father’s family line.) That would be a very strong form of endogamy, or “marrying in,” which, according to Tylor, would encourage social isolation, cultural stasis, rivalry, and high levels of conflict between clans….

And as we’ve already seen, parallel-cousin marriage [i.e. fbd marriage-h.chick] has an effect precisely the opposite of the alliance-building interchange encouraged by cross-cousin marriage — and praised by Tylor and Levi-Strauss. Instead of encouraging cultural exchange, forging alliances, and mitigating tensions among competing groups, parallel-cousin marriage tends to wall off groups from one another and to encourage conflict between and among them. However strong the urge among anthropologists to identify the cooperative advantages of exogamy as a core characteristic of human nature itself, the hard fact of the matter is that a significant minority of human societies have chosen to organize themselves according to principles quite the opposite of alliance-based exogamy. Care to hazard guess as to exactly where in the world those societies might be?

“While the vast majority of societies that practice cousin marriage favor the marriage of cross cousins, the relatively small number of societies that encourage parallel-cousin marriage can be found in the Islamic cultures of North Africa and west and central Asia. Russian anthropologist Andrey Korotayev has shown that, while the region that practices parallel-cousin marriage does not map perfectly onto the Islamic world as a whole, it does (with some exceptions) closely resemble the territory of the eighth-century Islamic Caliphate — the original Islamic empire. So there is one great exception to the claim that human society — and even human nature itself — are built around the principle of extra-familial marriage. Almost every known contemporary case of preferential parallel-cousin marriage is the result of diffusion from a single source: the original Islamic Caliphate. And while parallel-cousin marriage may not be Islamic in any strict or formal sense (in fact, the practice apparently predates Islam in the region), as Korotayev puts it, ‘there seems to be no serious doubt that there is some functional connection between Islam and FBD [father’s brother’s daughter -- i.e., parallel cousin] marriage.’ Sounds like we’d best find out what that ‘functional connection’ is….”
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“Marriage and the Terror War, Part II”
“Protecting the honor of the family; protecting the honor of Islam.”
February 16, 2007

“[O]nce you understand how Muslims construct society as a collection of counterbalanced, sometimes allied, sometimes feuding, closed-off, and self-sufficient family cells, the problem of Muslim cultural persistence begins to make sense. Holy also allows us to appreciate that the Muslim seclusion of women (another critical barrier to modernization and assimilation) is part and parcel of a larger complex of practices, at the center of which is parallel-cousin marriage….

“With all the economic and social diversity in the Middle East, one factor remains constant. Wherever parallel-cousin marriage is practiced, the notion that the honor of the male family-line depends upon the sexual conduct of women is strong. For this reason, a woman’s father’s brother’s son (her parallel cousin) has the right-of-first-refusal in the matter of her marriage. To protect against the possibility of a woman’s shameful marriage (or other dangerous sexual conduct) damaging the honor of the men of her lineage, male relatives have the right to keep her safely within the family line by marrying her off to her parallel cousin.

“As I’ll show in a follow-up piece, all of these kinship mechanisms are much at work in Europe today. Muslim immigrants in Europe use cousin marriage to keep wealth within already tight family lines, and to prevent girls from entering ‘shameful’ marriages with cultural outsiders. All this serves to reinforce family ‘solidarity,’ thereby blocking the assimilation of Muslim immigrants into society at large. We’ve all heard about full-body veiling, the seclusion of women, forced marriage, honor killing, and the like. Europe is struggling with the question of how to handle these practices. What we’ve missed up to now is the sense in which cousin marriage tends to organize and orchestrate all of these controversial practices, thereby serving as the lynch-pin of a broader pattern of resistance to assimilation and modernization. In effect, parallel-cousin marriage in Europe acts as a social ‘sealing mechanism’ to block cultural interchange — just as, over a century ago, Sir Edward Tylor theorized it would….”
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“With Eyes Wide Open”
“Who they are; what we’re getting into.”
February 20, 2002

“The split between the state and society-at-large has a long history in the Middle East. The governments of Mohammad and his immediate successors, the ‘rightly guided Caliphs,’ were successful theocracies. But as Islam’s empire grew, the Caliphs were forced to resort to strategies of authoritarian rule and hereditary recruitment that violated strict Islamic principles of equality and consultation. The result was that the state itself lost legitimacy. Righteous Muslims grew more interested in avoiding the state than in serving it. The image of Mohammad’s just theocracy lived on, and religion was still blended with everyday social practice through the regulations of Islamic law, but for much of Islamic history, the state itself was devalued and delegitimated.

“That was less of a problem before the modern era. The great Islamic empires ruled their subjects lightly taxing and offering military protection, but for the most part depending on tribal ties and kinship (along with Islamic law) to regulate the daily business of life. The rulers stayed out of the day-to-day affairs of the people, and the people liked it that way. The old system allowed Muslim governments to cobble together huge empires out of essentially self-governing populations. Yet under modern conditions, the traditional split between the self-contained world of tribe and kin, on the one hand, and the state on the other, sets up a debilitating struggle between tradition and modernity.

“The meltdown in the Middle East has been fueled by massive population growth and a flood of rural immigrants into cities like Cairo and Istanbul. Governments have been hard pressed to provide the new urban immigrants with municipal services, much less jobs. That’s where those kin networks come in. In European history, even in rural areas, extended kinship ties grew progressively less important, until the collapse of feudalism and the rise of cities created a society of truly modern individuals. The new European society was ruled by powerful centralized governments, and bureaucracies that applied the law equally to all. But unlike the urban masses of Europe, the rural migrants powering the Middle East’s urban population explosion have brought their traditional kinship networks with them. Those networks offer support to the common man where weak Middle Eastern governments cannot — while also making it impossible for a modern political and economic system to take root. Family connections get you food when neither government nor the economy can provide it. But the corruption fueled by the family ethos sabotages the government’s distribution plans, undercuts the government’s legitimacy, and blocks the path to societal liberalization….

In short, the entire kinship system and its associated economic apparatus constitutes almost a society within a society, the massive holdings of which aren’t even counted toward Egypt’s GNP. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that the modern Egyptian government and economy are virtual alien implants, floating lightly on the surface of a still remarkably traditional society, even in a big city like Cairo. Yet people still expect the government to deliver cheap foodstuffs and other staples. It’s the government food subsidies that enable parents to squirrel away money for their children’s marriages — alliances that cement social connections that bring the security, opportunity, and prosperity that the government cannot deliver. That’s why threats to the food subsidies bring riots….”
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“Veil of Fears”
“Why they veil; why we should leave it alone.”
December 15, 2001

“The conflict between modernity and the traditional Muslim view of women is one of the most important causes of this war. The tiresome claim of the leftist academy that poverty causes terrorism misses the point. So far from being poor, Muslim fundamentalists tend to come from a relatively wealthy modernizing class. The terrorists and their supporters are generally newly urbanized, college-educated professionals from intact families with rural backgrounds. They are a rising but frustrated cohort, shut out of power by a more entrenched and Westernized elite. True, the new fundamentalists often find themselves stymied by the weak economies of Muslim countries, but as a class they are relatively well off. Like many revolutions, the Muslim fundamentalist movement has been spurred by increased income, education, and expectations. But it is the clash between traditional Middle Eastern family life and modernity that has decisively pushed so many toward fundamentalism. And women are at the center of the problem….

“The Taliban’s code of womanly behavior was intentionally directed toward the cities. The aim was to ‘purify’ those areas of Afghanistan that had been ‘corrupted’ by modernization. But the Taliban never bothered to enforce its rules in traditional areas. Actually, in most Afghan villages, women rarely wear the burka. That’s because villages in Afghanistan are organized into kin-oriented areas, and the veil needs wearing only when a woman is among men from outside of her kin group. A rural woman puts on a burka for travel, especially to cities. Yet just by exiting her home, a woman in a modern city inevitably mixes with men who are not her kin. That’s why the Taliban prohibited the modernized women of Kabul from so much as stepping onto the street without a male relative. So the real problem with the veil in Afghanistan was the Taliban’s attempt to impose the traditional system of veiling on a modernizing city. Yet, remarkable as it may seem, many modernizing urban women throughout the Middle East have freely accepted at least a portion of the Taliban’s reasoning. These educated women have actually taken up the veil — and along with it, Muslim fundamentalism. To see why, it is necessary to understand what makes traditional Muslim women veil in the first place.

Life in the Muslim Middle East has long revolved around family and tribe. In fact, that’s what a tribe is — your family in its most extended form. For much of Middle Eastern history, tribal networks of kin functioned as governments in miniature. In the absence of state power, it was the kin group that protected an individual from attack, secured his wealth, and performed a thousand other functions. No one could flourish whose kin group was not strong, respected, and unified.

“In the modern Middle East, networks of kin are still the foundation of wealth, security, and personal happiness. That, in a sense, is the problem. As we’ve seen in Afghanistan, loyalty to kin and tribe cuts against the authority of the state. And the corrupt dictatorships that rule much of the Muslim Middle East often function themselves more like self-interested kin groups than as rulers who take the interests of the nation as a whole as their own. That, in turn, gives the populace little reason to turn from the proven support of kin and tribe, and trust instead in the state.

“So from earliest youth, a Middle Eastern Muslim learns that his welfare and happiness are bound up in the strength and reputation of his family. If, for example, a child shows a special aptitude in school, his siblings might willingly sacrifice their personal chances for advancement simply to support his education. Yet once that child becomes a professional, his income will help to support his siblings, while his prestige will enhance their marriage prospects.

“The ‘family’ to which a Muslim Middle Easterner is loyal, however, is not like our family. It is a ‘patrilineage’ — a group of brothers and other male relatives, descended from a line of men that can ultimately be traced back to the founder of a particular tribe. Traditionally, lineage brothers will live near one another and will share the family’s property. This willingness of a ‘band of brothers’ to pool their labor and wealth is the key to the strength of the lineage.

“But the centrality of men to the Muslim kinship system sets up a problem. The women who marry into a lineage pose a serious threat to the unity of the band of brothers. If a husband’s tie to his wife should become more important than his solidarity with his brothers, the couple might take their share of the property and leave the larger group, thus weakening the strength of the lineage.

“There is a solution to this problem, however — a solution that marks out the kinship system of the Muslim Middle East as unique in the world. In the Middle East, the preferred form of marriage is between a man and his cousin (his father’s brother’s daughter). Cousin marriage solves the problem of lineage solidarity. If, instead of marrying a woman from a strange lineage, a man marries his cousin, then his wife will not be an alien, but a trusted member of his own kin group. Not only will this reduce a man’s likelihood of being pulled away from his brothers by his wife, a woman of the lineage is less likely to be divorced by her husband, and more likely to be protected by her own extended kin in case of a rupture in the marriage. Somewhere around a third of all marriages in the Muslim Middle East are between members of the same lineage, and in some places the figure can reach as high as 80 percent. It is this system of ‘patrilateral parallel cousin marriage’ [fbd marriage-h.chick] that explains the persistence of veiling, even in the face of modernity.

By veiling, women are shielded from the possibility of a dishonoring premarital affair. But above all, when Muslim women veil, they are saving themselves for marriage to the men of their own kin group. In an important sense, this need to protect family honor and preserve oneself for an advantageous marriage to a man of the lineage is a key to the rise of Islamic revivalism….”
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“After the War”
Winter 2003

“[I]f we do decide to try to impose democracy on Iraq, it will be far harder than proponents of democratization recognize. It will entail long, unremitting U.S. effort….

“The democratizers’ model for transforming Iraq is America’s post–World War II occupation of Japan….

“Efforts to democratize a country require more than modern liberal ideas; they require a class of people who embrace those ideas and make them effective. Had a sophisticated modern bureaucratic class not been on hand to accept and implement democratic reforms, the American occupation of Japan would not have succeeded. To be sure, excessive bureaucracy can suffocate democratic liberty, but modern bureaucracies are generally democratizing forces. They embody intrinsically modern, democratic ideas — that the government office is distinct from the individual who holds it, for example, and that rules apply to all with equal force. They blow apart traditional social relations — relations that are often powerful barriers to democratic reform—by centralizing authority and power in a national government.

“Japan’s relatively modern bureaucratic class was in place even before the Meiji Restoration. Many former samurai, displaced by history from their traditional military role, had moved into administrative positions. No egalitarians, these men possessed a profound sense of superiority and entitlement, based on a conviction that they had transcended the petty selfishness of the ordinary man to devote themselves to a higher good. In the administrative realm, their elite spirit of nobility and sacrifice took the form of an ethic of detachment, incorruptibility, and public-spiritedness — ideal virtues for modern bureaucratic elites. Once Meiji Japan began to copy Western bureaucratic and meritocratic models, the samurai, with their background in government service, fit right in and helped make those models work in their new Japanese setting, especially since these men had come under the influence of the liberty and popular-rights movement, whose leaders were displaced samurai like themselves.

“The distinctive samurai ethic of public service put an enduring stamp on the Japanese democracy that emerged from the American occupation. To this day, many scholars describe Japan as a ‘bureaucratic polity,’ with government bureaucrats running the country, the political parties, and the industries too.

Nothing comparable to Japan’s liberal intellectual tradition and modern, public-spirited bureaucratic class exists in Iraq or in any Arab country. The influence of fundamentalist Islam in the Arab world reflects a culture deeply inhospitable to democratic and liberal principles. In a perceptive recent National Interest article, Adam Garfinkle explains that, whereas democracies take as bedrock assumptions that political authority lies with society, that the majority rules, and that citizens are equal before the law, Arab societies vest political authority in the Qur’an, rest decision-making on consensus, and understand law and authority as essentially hierarchical. They lack such essential cultural preconditions for democracy as the idea of a loyal opposition or the rule of law or the separation of church and state. No surprise, given their nonmodern political beliefs, that not one Arab Muslim country qualifies as ‘free’ in Freedom House’s annual survey, and that a disproportionate number of Arab regimes qualify in the ‘worst of the worst’ category — the least free and least democratic on earth.

Arab Muslim societies remain un-modern and un-democratic not just in their attitudes toward political authority and law but also in their social organization. For men and women living within a universe where tribal identity, the duties and benefits of extended kinship networks, and conceptions of collective honor organize the relations of everyday life, democratic principles will be incomprehensible.

“And therefore democracy would be impossible. How could a modern, democratic bureaucracy function, for example, if officials remain loyal primarily to tribe, faction, or family? The power of such ties preempts any ethic of disinterested public service. A government office becomes a means of benefiting your family and harming your enemies, not applying the rules fairly. Saddam’s Iraq largely functions like one big tribal patriarchy, with Saddam the patriarch. His kin, together with members of his tribe and allied tribes, rule….”
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“Assimilation Studies, Part I”
“Muslim and non-Muslim immigrants to Britain originating from the same region.”
March 21, 2007

“It’s a commonplace that Muslim immigrants in Europe have been slow to assimilate. In a general way, the public attributes this relative isolation to Muslim religion and culture. But if you’re looking for a clear, powerful, and detailed account of exactly what it is that’s been blocking Muslim assimilation in Europe, there is no better place to begin than Ballard.

“Variation on a Theme

“Before turning to Ballard’s work, I need to note that the form of cousin marriage favored by the Pakistani Muslims who immigrate to Britain is a regional variant on the ‘parallel cousin’ marriage [fbd marriage-h.chick] favored by Muslims in the heart of the Arab World. (I discussed the nature and significance of ‘parallel cousin’ marriage in ‘Marriage and the Terror War’ Parts I and II.) While many Pakistani Muslims do in fact marry their first or second ‘patrilateral parallel cousins’ (their father’s brother’s child), many others marry first and second cousins of other types. In contrast to Muslims in North Africa and the Arab World, Muslims in Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and parts of Pakistan prefer marriage with any closely related cousin — not merely ‘patrilateral parallel cousins….’

Part of what makes Ballard’s 1990 ‘Migration and kinship’ piece so powerful is that he has identified Punjabi migration to Britain as something like a natural controlled experiment, with cousin marriage as the key variable. Somewhere between two-thirds and three-quarters of all South Asians in Britain are Punjabis. The Punjab sits athwart the border of India and Pakistan and is home to substantial communities of Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs. Muslims live almost exclusively in the Pakistani half of Punjab, while Sikhs and Hindus live largely in Indian Punjab. Whatever their religion, Punjabi migrants to Britain have a great deal in common. Most come from small, peasant, farming families, share basic cultural premises, speak a common language, and originally entered Britain intending to pocket savings from manual labor and return home. (In the end, many Punjabi guest workers remained in Britain.)

“In family life, Punjabis of whatever religion organize themselves into patrilineal descent groups. Within those patrilineal clans, a ‘joint family’ forms around a man, his married sons, and their children, with women leaving their natal homes to move in with their husbands. The family lives communally, sharing wealth and property, with grown sons under their father’s authority, and in-marrying wives working under the direction of their mother-in-law. And whether Muslim, Hindu, or Sikh, the modesty of women in dress and behavior is a key cultural value for all Punjabis.

Despite these many similarities, the position of Punjabi Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu immigrants in Britain dramatically differs. Ballard focuses his comparison on two immigrant groups: Punjabi Muslims from the Mirpur region of Pakistan and Punjabi Sikhs from the Jullundur region of India. (Ballard frequently invokes Punjabi Hindus for comparative purposes as well.) Far from being obscure or isolated examples, it turns out that nearly three-quarters of British Punjabis are either Mirpuri Muslims or (largely Sikh) Jullunduris. With Punjabis making up the great majority of all British South Asians, Ballard’s careful comparison is therefore telling us about two of the largest and most influential South Asian immigrant groups in Britain.

So what’s the difference between Jullunduri Sikhs and Mirpuri Muslims? Quite simply, Jullunduri Sikh’s have moved relatively far down the road of assimilation, while Mirpuri Muslims have not. Now largely middle class, many British Sikhs have abandoned manual labor to start their own businesses, have moved from the inner city to the suburbs, and currently see their children performing academically at the same level as other middle-class Britons. British Mirpuri Muslims, on the other hand, move between unemployment and manual labor, are still largely confined to poor, inner-city ethnic enclaves, and rear children with a limited grasp of English and a notably low level of academic achievement.

“Given the broad social, cultural, and linguistic similarities between Mirpuri Muslims and Jullunduri Sikhs (and Hindus), how are we to account for the radically different trajectories of these immigrant communities in Britain? Can religion explain the difference? In a sense, it can. Yet the key barriers to assimilation aren’t always religious in the strict sense. The factors that inhibit assimilation have less to do with Muslim beliefs per se than with the distinctive, non-textual practices that organize Muslim society.

In particular, the practice of cousin marriage has served to create a culturally insulated community of Mirpuri Muslims in Britain….

“After noting that economic factors can have only limited explanatory value in this case, Ballard goes on to highlight the influence of marriage practices on patterns of immigrant assimilation. Ballard suggests that the Muslim practice of cousin marriage may account for the formation of ‘far more in-turned and all-embracing’ kinship networks than we find among British Sikhs, thus helping to explain the two groups’ divergent patterns of economic achievement and cultural accommodation….
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“Assimilation Studies, Part II”
“On cousin marriage and Pakistani Muslims in Britain.”
March 22, 2007

The practice of cousin marriage among Pakistani immigrants has significantly slowed Muslim assimilation in Britain. Muslim cousin marriage has also facilitated a process of ‘reverse colonization,’ in which large, culturally intact sections of Pakistani Muslim society have been effectively transferred to British soil. These conclusions emerge from the work of British South Asianist Roger Ballard — particularly from his path-breaking paper ‘Migration and kinship: the differential effects of marriage rules on the processes of Punjabi migration to Britain.’ In the first part of ‘Assimilation Studies,’ I laid out the background necessary to follow Ballard’s case. Here in Part II, I’ll run through the core of his argument. I’ll also explain why highlighting the significance of Muslim cousin marriage is such a difficult and controversial enterprise….

“Ballard (who’s done extensive fieldwork in Pakistan’s Mirpur district) estimates that ‘over 60% of all Mirpuri marriages are contracted between first cousins.’ In 2002, Ballard noted that: ‘At least half (and possibly as many as two-thirds) of the marriages currently being contracted by young British-based Mirpuris are still arranged with their cousins from back home….’

“What differences did Ballard find between the two big groups of British immigrants from the Punjab: Muslims from the Mirpur district of Pakistan, and Sikhs from the Jullundur district of India? Although both of these groups share a broadly similar social and cultural background, their patterns of assimilation have been strikingly different….

“Even in the 1970s, when Mirpuri Muslim laborers finally did begin to bring their wives and children to live with them in Britain, ties to Pakistan were sustained through ‘chain migration.’ With immigration regulations in Britain reflecting a lesser need and desire for foreign workers, villagers back in Mirpur could obtain visas only by marrying Mirpuri migrants already in Britain. Children of these couples, in turn, married and brought to England yet another generation of Mirpuri villagers, with each link in the chain of marriage migration insuring that the process of adjustment to English language and culture would begin again from scratch. These relatively unassimilated Mirpuri marriage-migrants were largely confined to the inner-city — to neighborhoods that recreated, insofar as possible, the linguistic and cultural conditions of Pakistan itself. Given their limited contact with English-speaking neighbors, Mirpuri children in these ethnic ghettos continued to have problems in school.

So, even when Mirpuri migrant men finally did reunite their families in Britain, it was less a breaking of the bonds that linked them to Pakistan than an effective transfer of a South Asian village society to Britain itself — a sort of ‘reverse colonization’ — with marriage-driven chain migration keeping the ties between the ‘reverse colony’ and the Punjabi homeland as strong as ever. In combination with the original post-war labor inflow, marriage-driven chain migration has now succeeded in transferring well over 50 percent of Mirpur’s original population to Britain. ‘We don’t cultivate wheat here any more,’ one of Ballard’s Mirpuri informants commented, ‘we cultivate visas instead….’

“As Muslim and Sikh immigrants gradually adjusted to life in Britain, it became increasingly evident that marriages arranged with villagers from back home tended to be riven with conflict. Cultural differences, the language gap, and the wide divergence in general social competence between British-raised youth and their spouses from South Asia frequently made for trouble and strife. So when the parents of British-born Sikhs were faced with the offer of an arranged marriage with a villager from Punjab, their children invariably opposed the match. In doing so, these young Sikhs had the advantage of knowing that their parents were under no obligation to accept any particular proposal of marriage. Given the Sikh practice of clan exogamy, every marriage is arranged from scratch with an outsider. In short order, therefore, the new generation of British-born Sikhs successfully pressed their parents to arrange marriages with British-born (or perhaps even North American-born) Sikh partners.

“The situation was very different for children of Mirpuri Muslims. Among Mirpuris, it’s taken for granted that cousins have a virtual right-of-first-refusal in the matter of marriage. Even in the absence of immigration, it would have been entirely expected that the children of Mirpuri migrants would marry their cousins. How much more so was this the case when a marriage meant a British visa, and a vast increase in wealth — all redounding to the honor of the patriclan? Many Mirpuri migrants had only made it to Britain in the first place with economic help from a brother back in Pakistan. This practice of sharing of resources within the joint family created a powerful moral obligation to repay that financial help by arranging a marriage (and a visa) for the child of the brother who remained in Pakistan.

“The British-born children of these Mirpuri Muslim migrants were perhaps a bit less apprehensive than their British Sikh counterparts about the idea of marrying villagers from back home. After all, these young Mirpuris had gotten to know their cousins on those long visits to Pakistan, and some affectionate attachments had developed. Yet the chronic problems of transnational marriages did indeed call forth opposition to such matches from many young Mirpuris. In contrast to the situation among immigrant Sikhs, however, the hands of Mirpuri parents were largely tied. To refuse a marriage with a relative back in Pakistan, when customary rights, financial obligation, and family honor were all at stake, would have been tantamount to a repudiation of siblingship itself. Such a severing of ties could bring retaliation in the form of efforts to blacken the honor of an immigrant and his family — a particularly severe sanction among Muslims.

So while Sikh immigrants increasingly broke the links of marriage-driven chain migration, the practice of Muslim cousin-marriage insured that assimilation itself would virtually begin again from scratch with each new generational infusion of Mirpuri spouses. The result has been economic stagnation and the literal transfer of more than half of Mirpur’s population to an archipelago of ‘reverse colonies’ in the heart of Britain….”

previously: stanley kurtz rocks and nowhere to run and father’s brother’s daughter marriage and tribes and types of cousin-marriage

(note: comments do not require an email. british mirpuri community.)

DNA USA*“[A]bout about 4 percent of whites have at least 1 percent or more African ancestry. Although it is a relatively small percentage, the percentage indicates that an individual with at least 1 percent African ancestry had an African ancestor within the last six generations, or in the last 200 years. This data also suggests that individuals with mixed parentage at some point were absorbed into the white population. Looking a little more deeply into the data, Kasia also found that the percentage of whites with hidden African ancestry differed significantly from state-to-state. Southern states with the highest African American populations, tended to have the highest percentages of hidden African ancestry…. Previous published studies estimate that on average African Americans had about 82 percent African ancestry and about 18 percent European ancestry. But in self-identified African Americans in 23andMe’s database, Kasia found the average amount of African ancestry was closer to 73 percent. Kasia found significant differences in state-to-state comparisons. African Americans in the northern and western states have more mixed ancestry than those in the southern states…. On average Latinos had about 70 percent European ancestry, 14 percent Native American ancestry and 6 percent African ancestry. The remaining ancestry is difficult to assign because the DNA is either shared by a number of different populations around the world, or because it’s from understudied populations, such as Native Americans.” – from 23andMe.

Common Variants in the CDH7 Gene are Associated with Major Depressive Disorder in the Han Chinese Population“Recent genome-wide association study also demonstrated that CDH7 was significant associated with bipolar disorder…. Our results support CDH7 to be a risk factor of MDD in the Han Chinese population. However, further studies with more markers and independent samples were suggested to validate our findings.”

Humans May Have Been Stuck on Bering Strait for 10,000 Years“In the new Perspectives article, published today (Feb. 27) in the journal Science, the researchers compile existing data to support the idea, known as the Beringia standstill hypothesis. Among that evidence is genetic data showing that founding populations of Native Americans diverged from their Asian ancestors more than 25,000 years ago. In addition, land in the region of the Bering Strait teemed with grasses to support big game (for food) and woody shrubs to burn in the cold climate, supporting a hard-scrabble existence for ancient people.” – razib is skeptical.

Was skin cancer a selective force for black pigmentation in early hominin evolution?“[D]ata on age-associated cancer incidence and lethality in albinos living at low latitudes in both Africa and Central America support the contention that skin cancer could have provided a potent selective force for the emergence of black skin in early hominins.”

Neanderthal Introgression at Chromosome 3p21.31 Was Under Positive Natural Selection in East Asians“Studies of the Neanderthal and Denisovan genomes demonstrate archaic hominin introgression in Eurasians. Here, we present evidence of Neanderthal introgression within the chromosome 3p21.31 region, occurring with a high frequency in East Asians (ranging from 49.4% to 66.5%) and at a low frequency in Europeans. We also detected a signal of strong positive selection in this region only in East Asians…. [S]uggestive evidence supports latitude-dependent selection, implicating a role of ultraviolet-B.”

Neanderthals challenge the origins of speech“Neanderthals, may well have spoken in languages not dissimilar to the ones we use today…. [I]n terms of mechanical behaviour, the Neanderthal hyoid was basically indistinguishable from our own, strongly suggesting that this key part of the vocal tract was used in the same way. ‘From this research, we can conclude that it’s likely that the origins of speech and language are far, far older than once thought.’” – h/t billare (who is 0.1% neanderthal)!

READ THIS (yes, there *will* be a pop quiz on the material later in the week (~_^) )!: Environmental Hereditarianism“[T]here is little evidence linking most ‘measurable’ aspects of the environment to human physical or behavioral traits…. Most of the solid evidence we do have for environmental impacts come in the forms of things that do physical damage (e.g., maiming limbs or traumatic brain injury) – a category which includes poisons; or are developmental deficits, such as malnutrition. Much of the rest of it (take your pick) is lacking.” – from jayman. – previously: it’s not nature and nurture….

Outliers – from greg cochran.

New evidence confirms link between IQ, brain cortex“Rate of change in the thickness of the brain’s cortex is an important factor associated with a person’s change in IQ, according to a collaborative study by scientists in five countries…. This study is the first to show the association between cortical thickness and development in full scale IQ, and has potentially wide-ranging implications for the pedagogical world and for judicial cases in which the defendant’s IQ score could play a role in determining the severity of the sentence.”

The Germ Theory of Democracy, Dictatorship, and All Your Most Cherished Beliefs“What kind of government do you live under? Who are your sexual partners? How do you treat strangers? All of these questions may mask a more fundamental one: What germs are you warding off?” – h/t jason collins! – but see this previous post: pathogens and consanguinity“the BIG outliers, though, are the arabs and all their middle eastern/north african/south asian muslim buddies. they are the ones throwing off the correlation completely…. these societies are amongst those that have the highest consanguinity rates, and yet some of their pathogen index scores are *very* low.” that part of the world also does not do well when it comes to (liberal) democracy. – see also jayman’s response.

Nicholas Wade Takes on the Regime – jared taylor reviews nicholas wade’s upcoming book on race. – h/t hbd bibliography! – see also this comment from jayman. – and see also Harmful, toxic equalism from the awesome epigone.

The Nature of Race – from karl boetel and john furest. see also here.

12,000 year old prehistoric art shows woman hunting – maybe. kinda/sorta. (not really.) – from adam benton.

Altruism and the Dark Side of Agreeableness“[B]eware of really nice people. If they seem too good to be true, they usually are.” – from staffan.

Forgotten fathers: paternal influences on mammalian sex allocation“A growing body of evidence suggests that the assumption that males produce an unbiased proportion of X- and Y-chromosome-bearing spermatozoa is not always valid with significant between- and even within-individual variation.” – a mechanism for trivers-willard? – h/t lars penke!

Digit Span: the modest little bombshell and What does IQ 70 mean for black and white kids? – from dr. thompson.

The paradox of the Visual Word Form Area“The VWFA functions differently in different human populations. The difference is striking between people who use alphabetical script, where each symbol represents a sound, and those who use logographic script, where each symbol represents an idea. Chinese subjects process their idea-based symbols with assistance from other brain regions, whereas Westerners process their sound-based symbols only in the VWFA.” – from peter frost.

The man who destroyed America’s ego“How a rebel psychologist challenged one of the 20th century’s biggest—and most dangerous—ideas…. Among the most egregious errors they discovered were those in the papers that focused on academic performance. A correlation had been repeatedly found between high self-esteem and good grades. So, the logic went, if you boosted self-esteem you’d also boost grades. But the authors had made one of the most elementary mistakes in science. ‘When they tracked people over time,’ says Baumeister, ‘the grades came first, and then the self-esteem. High self-esteem was a *result* of good grades, not a cause.’” – h/t matthew wygant!

Genetic Influences on Political Ideologies: Twin Analyses of 19 Measures of Political Ideologies from Five Democracies and Genome-Wide Findings from Three Populations“Here we present results from original analyses of a combined sample of over 12,000 twins pairs, ascertained from nine different studies conducted in five democracies, sampled over the course of four decades. We provide evidence that genetic factors play a role in the formation of political ideology, regardless of how ideology is measured, the era, or the population sampled…. We then present results from one of the first genome-wide association studies on political ideology using data from three samples: a 1990 Australian sample involving 6,894 individuals from 3,516 families; a 2008 Australian sample of 1,160 related individuals from 635 families and a 2010 Swedish sample involving 3,334 individuals from 2,607 families. No polymorphisms reached genome-wide significance in the meta-analysis. The combined evidence suggests that political ideology constitutes a fundamental aspect of one’s genetically informed psychological disposition, but as Fisher proposed long ago, genetic influences on complex traits will be composed of thousands of markers of very small effects and it will require extremely large samples to have enough power in order to identify specific polymorphisms related to complex social traits.”

Why Americans Are So Polarized: Education and Evolution“Improvements in learning — which correlates with stronger partisanship — and the tendency to choose likeminded mates may be helping to create divided politics.” – from avi tuschman. – h/t eddy elmer!

Conservatives generally more willing to take business risks, study finds

Paternal Age at Childbearing and Offspring Psychiatric and Academic Morbidity“In the study population, advancing paternal age was associated with increased risk of some psychiatric disorders (eg, autism, psychosis, and bipolar disorders) but decreased risk of the other indexes of morbidity.”

A Genotype-First Approach to Defining the Subtypes of a Complex Disease – h/t kevin mitchell who tweeted: “Increasing recog’n that ‘common disorders; like autism really umbrella terms for many rare diseases.”

Researchers look at boy-girl differences in autism“Boys, it seems, can develop autism from a relatively small genetic hit, according to a study published today in the American Journal of Human Genetics. It takes more of a genetic wallop, though, to cause autism in girls – so when they do get it, they’re worse off. The same explanation holds true, researchers think, for the gender imbalance in ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder), intellectual disabilities and schizophrenia.” – see also: A Higher Mutational Burden in Females Supports a “Female Protective Model” in Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

China Cracks Down on DNA Testing – h/t jayman!

Epigenetics: The sins of the father – big story in nature today. – “The roots of inheritance may extend beyond the genome, but the mechanisms remain a puzzle.” – but swedish scientist on twitter says: “But Rando misquotes Swedish human data in his Cell paper on mice. Caution for epigenetic hype!” – hmmmm. =/

The Consequences of Natural Morality“Good and Evil are not objective things. They exist as subjective impressions, creating a powerful illusion that they are objective things. This illusion that Good and Evil are objects independent of the conscious minds that imagine them exists for a good reason. It ‘works.’ In other words, its existence has enhanced the probability that the genes responsible for its existence will survive and reproduce.” – from helian.

Digit ratio predicts eminence of Polish actors – this one’s for sisyphean! (^_^) – h/t ben southwood!

Sex differences in color preferences transcend extreme differences in culture and ecology.

In Academia, Women Collaborate Less With Their Same-Sex Juniors“‘Some older women treated us younger women almost worse than some men did,’ she says. ‘We called it the “Queen Bee syndrome.”‘” – heh. – h/t claire lehmann!

Women Can Keep the Vote: No Evidence That Hormonal Changes During the Menstrual Cycle Impact Political and Religious Beliefs – behind paywall.

Women ‘subconsciously outdo other females’ during ovulation“But what the researchers found really surprising is that ovulating women did not appear to want a higher standing over men – they became kinder to them. When playing the dictator game, non-ovulating women shared 45% of their money with men, while ovulating women were willing to share 60% of their money with men. These findings are unlike anything we have ever seen in the dictator game. You just don’t see people giving away more than half of their money,’ says Prof. Durante.” – (~_^)

Women Outperform Men in Ultra-Distance Swimming – The ‘Manhattan Island Marathon Swim’ From 1983 to 2013. – because we float better (because we have that extra layer of fat)? (~_^)

Sameness and the self: philosophical and psychological considerations.“[H]ow can a person maintain a belief in the sameness of self over time in the face of continual psychological and physical change?” – h/t neuroskeptic!

Young Children Can Be Taught Basic Natural Selection Using a Picture-Storybook Intervention – but not politically correct people, apparently. (~_^) – h/t stuart ritchie!

Study: Racial bias in pain perception appears among children as young as 7 – see also: Psychologists use baby-cam to study infants’ exposure to faces.

Mixed-race children ‘are being failed’ in treatment of mental health problems“Children of mixed race are at greater risk of suffering from mental health problems and are not getting the support they need, says a report.” – in the u.k.

Inferring Character From Faces: A Developmental Study.“This research suggests that the predisposition to judge others using scant facial information appears in adultlike forms early in childhood and does not require prolonged social experience.”

Los europeos no inventaron la desigualdad en Hispanoamérica – from eduardo zugasti.

Native American city on the Mississippi was America’s first ‘melting pot’carcosa cahokia. – “By analyzing the teeth of those buried in different locations in Cahokia, Emerson, state archaeological survey bioarchaeologist Kristin Hedman and graduate student Philip Slater discovered that immigrants formed one-third of the population of the city throughout its history (from about AD 1050 through the early 1300s).”

Two-hundred-year drought doomed Indus Valley Civilization“Monsoon hiatus that began 4,200 years ago parallels dry spell that led civilizations to collapse in other regions.”

HBD 101 – from malcolm pollack. (*^_^*)

bonus: A ‘Second Great Wave’ of immigration?“‘Once again, the country is approaching a percentage of foreign-born not seen since the late 1800s and early 1900s,’ the Census Bureau wrote on its blog this week.” – =/ – h/t ray sawhill!

bonus bonus: Muhammad’s birthplace to be razed – remember that the najdis hate the hejazis and vice versa.

bonus bonus bonus: Giant Virus, Awakened From 30,000-Year Slumber, Is Still Infectious – ruh roh (if you’re an amoeba)!

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Crawling Through The Brain Without Getting Lost“Do the wasps taste their way through a cockroach brain?” – mmmmmm! =/

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Australia: Snake eats crocodile after battle – WITH PICTURES! =o – h/t ed west!

(note: comments do not require an email. g-8 selfie. (~_^) )

Brown-skinned, blue-eyed, Y-haplogroup C-bearing European hunter-gatherer from Spain (Olalde et al. 2014) – @dienekes’. – also: European Hunter-Gatherers, Blue Eyes and Dark Skin? – from razib. – also: Hunter-gatherer European had blue eyes and dark skin“Genetic tests reveal that a hunter-gatherer who lived 7,000 years ago had the unusual combination of dark skin and hair and blue eyes.” – h/t ed west! – also: Tar-Zan* and Korak and Shades of Pale from greg cochran.

Y-chromosome “Adam” was not necessarily human“From the point of view of population genetics, there is absolutely no reason that the common ancestor of all human Y chromosomes must have existed in an individual that we would identify as ‘human’.”

Genomic variation in sharing between siblings“Visscher et al make really nice use of this slight variability in how much of the genome sibs share to learn about how much variation in height within a population is due to genetic variation. They use the fact that sibs who share slightly more of their genome (>0.5) should have more similar heights, than sibs who share less of their genomes (<0.5). This allows them to partition out how much of the resemblance between siblings is due to a shared environment, as opposed to shared genomes…. It also makes me wonder if sibs are actually unconsciously, weakly aware of these subtle genomic differences (through their similarity in a range of traits, including height etc). I could imagine doing a study where siblings (or others) are asked to assess how similar they are/feel, and then assessing whether this is weakly correlated with the fraction of the genome shared. I keep meaning to followup on this idea with some popgen theory to assess how this might play out in modifying kin-selection and altruism between sibs and other relatives." – from graham coop [this guy].

New genes spring, spread from non-coding DNA“A new study shows that new genes can spring from non-coding DNA more rapidly than expected.” – h/t hbd bibliography!

HBD Chick Lays it Down on HBD“I say can’t we just stick to seeking out the truth, whatever that is….” – hear, hear! – from jayman.

Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome“[T]he gut microbiome can rapidly respond to altered diet, potentially facilitating the diversity of human dietary lifestyles.”

300,000-year-old hearth found: Microscopic evidence shows repeated fire use in one spot over time“Scientists discovered in the Qesem Cave, an archaeological site near present-day Rosh Ha’ayin, the earliest evidence — dating to around 300,000 years ago — of unequivocal repeated fire building over a continuous period. These findings help answer the question and hint that those prehistoric humans already had a highly advanced social structure and intellectual capacity.” – h/t razib!

The new European phenotype: expansion into the Middle East – from peter frost.

Chimpocentrism and reconstructions of human evolution (a timely reminder) – h/t neuroskeptic! who said: “Beware ‘chimpocentrism’ in studies of human evolution.” – see also: Chimps have undergone more positive selection than humans – from adam benton.

Genius in the genes – from dr. james thompson.

On Dolphins, Big Brains, Shared Genes and Logical Leaps“‘It looks like ASPM evolved adaptively in all mammals…. It could be that ASPM is a general target of selection in episodes of brain evolution and isn’t specific to large brains.’”

Rates of atheism/agnosticism by ethnicity – from the awesome epigone.

Why Are Women More Liberal Than Men? – @the chateau.

Comparing Warfare Deaths per Capita in 18th vs. 20th Centuries“[T]he 20th century was only a bit more violent than the 18th century.” – from mike anissimov.

Why is polygamy declining? – from matt ridley, who tweeted: “The decline of human polygamy coincides with democracy.”

The Dark Enlightenment Hits Stage Two

La ciencia estúpida“La mayoría de los grandes científicos y filósofos no eran lo que diríamos tipos agradables. Tampoco eran políticamente correctos según el canon normal. Prácticamente ningún filósofo o científico anterior a la escuela de Frankfurt podría dar hoy una clase pública sin la amenaza de ser molestado por una turba emancipatoria. Hume, Darwin, Voltaire, Locke, Kant (no digamos ya Platón o Aristóteles) hoy no podrían ser contratados en la universidad de un país occidental.” – from eduardo zugasti.

Genome of longest-living cancer: 11,000-year-old living dog cancer reveals its origin, evolution“A cancer normally lives and dies with a person, however this is not the case with a sexually transmitted cancer in dogs. In a new study, researchers have described the genome and evolution of this cancer that has continued living within the dog population for the past 11,000 years.”

Why the masculine face? Genetic evidence reveals drawbacks of hyper-masculine features“[A]round half the variation in both male and female facial masculinity could be attributed to additive genetic variation…. The extensive genetic variation in masculinity makes more plausible the idea that choosing to mate with a masculine man can result in more attractive offspring. But the genes that made a male face more masculine did not make it more attractive. Worse, these same genes made female faces more masculine and thus less attractive. Families that make manly-looking sons tend also to make masculine-looking daughters.”

Casting Out The Devil“[C]onservatives generally think that liberals are misguided, and live in deep denial of obvious truths about human nature and the way the world actually works (as opposed to the way they think it *ought* to work), liberals view conservatives not just as misguided, but as *morally evil*.” – from malcolm pollack.

Joshua Greene’s “Moral Tribes”: The Minting of a New Morality – from helian.

Bones from human sacrifice at Tenochtitlan ceremonial complex“Fragments of human bones that exhibit cut marks and prolonged exposure to fire have been discovered through various excavations in the Sacred Precinct of Tenochtitlan (located in Mexico City). These skeletal remains are from individuals, such as children, slaves and captured warriors, who were sacrificed during religious festivals. – cannibalism! – h/t charles mann!

It’s not just ancient Roman propaganda: Carthaginians really did sacrifice children“‘We like to think that we’re quite close to the ancient world, that they were really just like us – the truth is, I’m afraid, that they really weren’t.’”

Data Mining Proves Darwin’s Finches Weren’t Really His – h/t jason moore!

Marry Your Like: Assortative Mating and Income Inequality“Does assortative mating contribute to household income inequality? Data from the United States Census Bureau suggests there has been a rise in assortative mating. Additionally, assortative mating affects household income inequality.” – h/t chuck ross!

Social status influences Democrats’ — but not Republicans’ — support for reducing inequality“Low wealth Democrats supported legislation to reduce economic inequality significantly more than both high wealth Democrats and Republicans. ‘Whereas Republicans tended to sponsor legislation that supports economic inequality regardless of their wealth, wealth predicted sponsoring behavior for Democrats,” the researchers explained.’ Specifically, high wealth Democrats tended to sponsor fewer pieces of legislation that reduce economic inequality than did their lower wealth counterparts.”

Dark lands: the grim truth behind the ‘Scandinavian miracle’“Take the Danes, for instance. True, they claim to be the happiest people in the world, but why no mention of the fact they are second only to Iceland when it comes to consuming anti-depressants?” – h/t claire lehmann!

Islam’s Baby Problem – @28 sherman.

Life as a Nonviolent Psychopath“Neuroscientist James Fallon discovered through his work that he has the brain of a psychopath, and subsequently learned a lot about the role of genes in personality and how his brain affects his life.” – this guy again. h/t ray sawhill!

A Sexual-Decision Flowchart That Makes Everything Simpler for Medieval Men – h/t jayman! (who’s prolly very glad he doesn’t live in the middle ages. (~_^) )

bonus: US Army considers replacing thousands of troops with robots“The US Army is studying whether robots could take the place of thousands of soldiers”

bonus bonus: Scotland had a glacier up to 1700s, say scientists

(note: comments do not require an email. glen coeglacial valley.)

sorry for the slow posting lately. yes, i’m still slacking off. (~_^) regularly scheduled programming should resume this weekend. (^_^)

in the meantime, i thought i’d steal a blogging idea from peter frost, and give ya’ll an idea of what to expect from this blog during 2014. (tl;dr: more of the same, really. (~_^) )

- more on mating patterns: long-term inbreeding and outbreeding practices in human societies and why some peoples go for inbreeding and why others do not. also, the relationship(s) (if any) between mating patterns and family types (think emmanuel todd). also, more on the connections between mating patterns and clannishness (or not) and behavioral patterns like civicness, corruption, and nepotism.

- i hope to explore further how different long-term mating patterns and family types create/affect selection pressures for various innate social behaviors in populations.

- individualism/collectivisim vs. familism/non-collectivism

- universalism vs. particularism

- democracy: including the contrasts between liberal vs. consensus democracy and the idea that there are democratic tendencies in a lot of societies — probably the majority of societies — but very few places where you’ll find liberal democracy and even fewer places where liberal democracy works.

- i want to look further at how renaissances and reformations happen, and why human accomplishment has most definitely not been uniform across the globe.

- violence: mostly the differences (if any) between societies where feuding is common vs. those that engage in large-scale warfare (thanks, grey!).

- also, i’ll continue to ask (in a hopefully annoying, gadfly-like way): where does culture come from?

- i’ll also be asking: how does assimilation happen? and i’ll be asking/looking for evidence for if/how it does.

this past summer, i started posting about the history of mating patterns in europe, and i had a plan all worked out, but i got (seriously) side-tracked. typical! i’m going to pick up that posting plan!…right after i post about the history of mating patterns/family types/social structures in the nordic nations…right after i post about the mating patterns/family types/social structures of the franks.

got all that? good. (^_^)

p.s. – oh. i also take reader requests! (^_^)

previously: top ten list 2013

(note: comments do not require an email. keep calm and… (^_^) )

ok, so it’s not really ten posts but a baker’s dozen — and it’s not even thirteen posts but thirteen “themes” — so sue me! (^_^)

this “top ten” list was determined solely by me. ymmv.

clannishness – difficult to define, but i know it when i see it:
- clannishness defined
- clannishness
- where do clans come from?
- where do emmanuel todd’s family types come from?
- mating patterns, family types, social structures, and selection pressures

individualism-collectivism – a curious paradox?:
- individualism-collectivism
- national individualism-collectivism scores
- kandahar vs. levittown
- universalism vs. particularism
- universalism vs. particularism again

what a few hundred years of outbreeding might get you?:
- renaissances
- archaic greek mating patterns and kinship terms

what a moderate amount of outbreeding (making you an in-betweener) might get you?:
- the radical reformation

inbreeding, outbreeding, and democracy:
- questions some of us thought to ask

inbreeding, outbreeding, and violence:
- kinship, the state, and violence

why inbreeding or outbreeding?:
- flatlanders vs. mountaineers revisited
- consanguineous marriage in afghanistan
- mating patterns in france and topography (and history)
- the turkana: mating patterns, family types, and social structures
- guess the population!

medieval germanic kindreds:
- medieval germanic kindreds…and the ditmarsians
- more on medieval germanic kindreds

the north sea populations – the anglo-saxons and the dutch:
- the anglo-saxons and america 3.0
- the saxons, the anglo-saxons, and america 3.0
- the importance of the kindred in anglo-saxon society
- the transition from shame to guilt in anglo-saxon england (and “core” europe)
- going dutch
- “core europe” and human accomplishment

the quakers:
- random notes: 07/30/13
- the myddle people
- geographical origin of the quakers
- on the topographical origins of the quakers
- quaker individualism

the irish:
- what’s this all about?
- early and late medieval irish mating practices
- clannish medieval ireland
- early modern and modern clannish ireland
- mating patterns, family types, and clannishness in twentieth century ireland

the arabs:
- historic mating patterns on the arabian peninsula
- hejazis vs. najdis (and vice versa)

on (political) witch-hunts and the nature of witch-hunting:
- “to disbelieve in witchcraft is the greatest of heresies”
- a loaded question
- why human biodiversity is true…and why jason richwine is right
- something’s rotten in the state of denmark
_____

- this was also the year of the hbd chick interview @the hoover hog! thanks, chip! (^_^)

- and the year that i got my very own (awesome!) Heroes of the Dark Enlightenment trading card from Radish Magazine!! awww, shucks. (*^_^*)

hbd chick trading card

- and, finally, it was also the year that i asked: where are my DRAGONS?! (^_^)

in Innate Social Aptitudes of Man: An Approach from Evolutionary Genetics [pdf], william hamilton suggested that, perhaps, one gets a renaissance by (re-)introducing barbarian altruism genes into a too outbred population, letting the mixture ferment for ca. 800 years or so, and then enjoying the fruits of everyone’s labors. he’s talking here, of course, about the european renaissance of the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries … and classical greece/athens after the dorian invasion of ca. 800 years earlier? i think. if it happened at all (link inserted by me):

“The incursions of barbaric pastoralists seem to do civilizations less harm in the long run than one might expect. Indeed, two dark ages and renaissances in Europe suggest a recurring pattern in which a renaissance follows an incursion by about 800 years. It may even be suggested that certain genes or traditions of pastoralists revitalize the conquered people with an ingredient of progress which tends to die out in a large panmictic population for the reasons already discussed. I have in mind altruism itself, or the part of the altruism which is perhaps better described as self-sacrificial daring. By the time of the renaissance it may be that the mixing of genes and cultures (or of cultures alone if these are the only vehicles, which I doubt) has continued long enough to bring the old mercantile thoughtfulness and the infused daring into conjunction in a few individuals who then find courage for all kinds of inventive innovation against the resistance of established thought and practice. Often, however, the cost in fitness of such altruism and sublimated pugnacity to the individuals concerned is by no means metaphorical, and the benefits to fitness, such as they are, go to a mass of individuals whose genetic correlation with the innovator must be slight indeed. Thus civilization probably slowly reduces its altruism of all kinds, including the kinds needed for cultural creativity (see also Eshel 1972).”

“self-sacrificial daring” is probably the equivalent of greying wanderer’s “aggression”, chris’ “drive”, staffan’s “persistence under negative reinforcement”, and/or my “contrarianism” or independent-mindedness.

the connection between these two renaissances might, indeed, be the reintroduction of some good altruism genes, but i think that maybe what these two “rebirths” have in common — what led to them occur at all — are the ca. 400-800 years of outbreeding which happened right before they began. in medieval europe we have the catholic church banning close cousin marriage around the year 500, and many secular authorities banned close cousin marriage at various points after that. and in archaic greece — the period just before classical greece/athens — we apparently have at least ca. 400 years of outbreeding — amongst the upper-classes most probably — and possibly amongst the lower classes, too (hesiod in his Works and Days recommends that a man — an ordinary man, a farmer — marry a nice girl from the neighborhood — from the kome or village — so, if archaic greeks actually did this, their mating patterns would’ve been quite endogamic, but not necessarily to close cousins — maybe third or fourth cousins or something — see A Companion to Archaic Greece).

i think you need some loosening of the genetic ties in populations — enough to get rid of a lot or most of the “clannishness” — so that you can have a “wikification” of those societies, i.e. societies where individuals are really willing to openly share their ideas with other like-minded people (see, for example, harold’s comment on the scientific revolution in england). but outbreed too much, and you might lose that “self-sacrificial daring” — because as hamilton said:

“…the benefits to fitness, such as they are, go to a mass of individuals whose genetic correlation with the innovator must be slight indeed.”

share your innovative ideas — your scientific inventions — with the entire world, and you might wind up benefitting all of those people more than your own descendents (if you’ve got any).

already at the start of the classical period in greece/athens, the mating patterns began to narrow [pg. 67]…

“[W]ith the emergence of the *polis*, exogamy began to give way in some places to endogamy — to marriage within the community. For the upper classes, this meant marriage within a tight circle of aristocratic families living in the same *polis*.”

…so it’s maybe no surprise that the athenians battled throughout the classical period against various aspects of clannishness (cleisthenes’ reforms are one huge example of this struggle) and that their renaissance didn’t last more than a couple hundred years. europeans, on the other hand — especially northern europeans — have continued to outbreed for something like over ca. 1000-1400 years — which, perhaps, is leading to another sort of problem for society — that it’s simplying fraying away at the seams because the weave is not tight enough.

maybe. dunno. all wild speculation on my part, obviously.

previously: archaic greek mating patterns and kinship terms

(note: comments do not require an email. why i otter…!)

Ancient DNA Links Native Americans With Europe“…from the complete nuclear genome of a Siberian boy who died 24,000 years ago — the oldest complete genome of a modern human sequenced to date. His DNA shows close ties to those of today’s Native Americans. Yet he apparently descended not from East Asians, but from people who had lived in Europe or western Asia. The finding suggests that about a third of the ancestry of today’s Native Americans can be traced to ‘western Eurasia,’ with the other two-thirds coming from eastern Asia…. It also implies that traces of European ancestry previously detected in modern Native Americans do not come solely from mixing with European colonists, as most scientists had assumed, but have much deeper roots.” — see also: The First of the Mohicans from greg cochran.

Your face may have been sculpted by junk DNA“There is a huge degree of variation in human faces but, as family resemblances show, the overall shape is heavily constrained by genetics. However, so far, geneticists have identified only a small number of genes that influence the shape. These explain just a tiny fraction of the variation seen in human faces. According to Axel Visel of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California and his colleagues, more variation is controlled by distant-acting enhancers. These are short sequences of DNA, in non-coding regions of the genome, that can influence the activity of the facial genes, even if they are a long way along the DNA strand.”

Behavior problems in preschool and child care centers may be an issue of genes“A new study suggests that some children may be genetically predisposed to developing behavioral problems in child care and preschool settings…. [B]irth parents who had high rates of negative emotion and self-control, based on a self-reported temperament scale, were more likely to have children who struggled with behavioral issues such as lack of self-control and anger, in child care centers. They controlled for adoptive parent’s characteristics, and still found a modest effect based on the genetic link.”

Your Ethnicity Determines the Species of Bacteria That Live in Your Mouth“[P]eople from each of the four different ethnic groups represented in the study (all participants self-identified as either Caucasian, African-American, Chinese or Latino) generally had similar species of bacteria, especially underneath the gums. As a result, simply by counting which varieties of bacteria appeared in this area, the researchers developed a model that was able to guess a person’s ethnicity with an accuracy significantly better than chance — it got it right 62 percent of the time. Some groups were even easier to identify via the bacteria than others: It could correctly identify Latinos 67 percent of the time and African-Americans with 100 accuracy. The variation along ethnic lines, they believe, is a reflection of genetics, not environment. That’s because, if you assumed that the mouth microbiome is totally dependent on environmental factors, you’d expect that members of the same ethnic group would have different mixes of bacteria depending on whether they were first-generation immigrants to the U.S. or had family histories that stretched back generations in the country. Instead, people’s background — in terms of foods they ate and other lifestyle trends — didn’t seem to have any correlation with the bacterial communities in their mouths. – h/t super bob!

Herpes virus genome traces the ancient path of human migration“Researchers…sequenced the genomes of 31 samples of herpes simplex virus type-1 to reconstruct how it hitchhiked on humans as they dispersed around the world. The results match the pattern proposed by the ‘Out of Africa’ theory, which has become the most widely accepted scenario for ancient human migration. The analysis showed that African strains of the virus contained the most genetic diversity — suggesting that they had the oldest roots.”

Genetic variation alters efficacy of antidepressant“Having a different form of a gene that regulates the brain chemical noradrenaline influences how well men remember negative memories after taking the antidepressant drug reboxetine, according to a study published in the October 23 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. The findings demonstrate how genes can influence antidepressant response.” – see also: Genes predispose some people to focus on the negative.

Much Earlier Split for Neanderthals, Humans?“This suggests that the last common ancestor of H. sapiens and Neanderthals lived sometime earlier, perhaps as far back as one million years ago.”

Denisovans in Wallacea? – from greg cochran.

Life on Earth Was Not a Fluke“Figuring out how biomolecular self-organization happens may hold the key to understanding life on Earth formed and perhaps how it might form on other planets.” – h/t jayman!

Genetics made very simple – from dr. james thompson.

Low historical rates of cuckoldry in a Western European human population traced by Y-chromosome and genealogical data“[W]e estimate that over the last few centuries, EPP rates in Flanders (Belgium) were only around 1–2% per generation. This figure is substantially lower than the 8–30% per generation reported in some behavioural studies on historical EPP rates, but comparable with the rates reported by other genetic studies of contemporary Western European populations. These results suggest that human EPP rates have not changed substantially during the last 400 years in Flanders and imply that legal genealogies rarely differ from the biological ones.” – h/t rob brooks!

‘Endowment Effect’ Not Present in Hunter-Gather Societies“‘The more isolated Hadza traded about 50 percent of the time — which is what rational people should do,’ Azevedo said. People near the village traded about 25 percent of the time, which is much closer to the 10 percent we see with Western students.” – h/t jason collins! – previously: personality goes a long way… in which researchers find just big TWO personality traits in a group of hunter-gatherers (the tsimane).

speaking of the tsimane: UCSB anthropologist studies the evolutionary benefit of human personality traits“‘Being more extroverted, open, agreeable and conscientious –– and less neurotic –– was associated with having more kids.’” in tsimane men. (if they really have all those personality traits…see link immediately above.)

What Happens When a Language Has No Numbers? – on the pirahã. – h/t nn!

Can Your Genes Predict Whether You’ll Be a Conservative or a Liberal?“Scientific research shows political partisanship transcends economics, environment, and upbringing.” – from avi tuschman.

Life expectancy and the dawn of agriculture – from jason collins.

Origins of Americans (Looking At HLA Haplotypes) – from our very own chris davies! previously from chris: human leukocyte antigen (hla) haplotypes and human biodiversity.

Number sense in infancy predicts mathematical abilities in childhood“Preverbal number sense in 6-month-old infants predicted standardized math scores in the same children 3 years later. This discovery shows that number sense in infancy is a building block for later mathematical ability and invites educational interventions to improve number sense even before children learn to count.” – h/t simon baron-cohen!

Black Suits, Gowns, & Skin: SAT Scores by Income, Education, & Race – @the unsilenced science. see also: Obama Administration: Moynihan’s Law of Canadian Border kinda right from steve sailer.

Of Race and Intelligence – from helian.

Sex on the Mind“It is a truth universally acknowledged — at least by biologists — that every person owes his or her existence to parents who successfully reproduced, each of whom, in turn, had two parents who did the same … and so on, going back hundreds of millions of years to the first ancestral blob (or two) of protoplasmic goo that trundled onto terra firma from the early earth’s organic soup.” – from david barash. — see also: Why Have Sex? – from the advanced apes.

Lust Is Love – from heartiste.

Kids Are More Likely to Trust Attractive Adults – h/t hbd bibliography!

Asymmetries in altruistic behavior during violent intergroup conflict“Some empirical studies on intergroup conflict in hunter-gatherer societies and chimpanzees indicate that fitness relevant risks and potential benefits of attacks and defenses might have differed substantially under ancestral conditions. Drawing on these studies, it is hypothesized that the success of defenses was much more important for individual and kin survival and that a disposition to act altruistically during intergroup conflict is thus more likely to evolve for the strategic situation of defense…. Analyzing detailed historical case data from 20th century wars, this study finds that altruistic behavior towards members of the in-group indeed seems to occur more frequently when soldiers are defending themselves and their comrades against enemy attacks.” – h/t hbd bibliography!

Who gives? Multilevel effects of gender and ethnicity on workplace charitable giving.“[E]thnic minorities donate less money to workplace charity than do Whites.” – and men less than women. – via richard lynn @amren.

Paradoxes of the Nordic Model II“Denmark is a high trust, highly cooperative society. There is very low crime. Most parked bicycles are not even locked. Bank employees may not work very efficiently, but nobody tried to swindle me. In theoretical terms, what it means is that when there are very few defectors, the amount of common good produced overall is maximized. So everybody is well of, even though they don’t work hard – but they don’t free-ride, either….” – from peter turchin.

Ma’am, Your Burger Has Been Paid For – paying it forward in america! – h/t charles murray!

Napoleon Chagnon: The Fierce Sociobiologist“[Yanomamo] Men from the highland villages were much less belligerent than men from villages along the river. Heterogeneity in belligerence existed even within this single tribe.”

Where Have All the Geniuses Gone?

Aboriginal Hunting Practice Increases Animal Populations – monitor lizards, anyway.

“Science has lost its way, at a big cost to humanity“Researchers are rewarded for splashy findings, not for double-checking accuracy. So many scientists looking for cures to diseases have been building on ideas that aren’t even true.” – h/t outsideness! – see also: Trouble at the lab“Scientists like to think of science as self-correcting. To an alarming degree, it is not.”

These Unresolved Ethical Questions Are About to Get Real

bonus: Hunted by their own government – the fight to save Kalahari Bushmen“Survival International, which campaigns on behalf of tribal peoples, has called for tourists to boycott holidays in Botswana, which is forcing Kalahari Bushmen off their reserves.”

bonus bonus: How did ancient Greek music sound? – beautiful apparently! – h/t ed west!

bonus bonus bonus: Author: In China, ‘everyone is guilty of corruption’ – on guanxi.

bonus bonus bonus bonus: The couple having four babies by two surrogates“A British couple are to become parents of two sets of twin babies carried by two Indian surrogate women they have never met. Experts say twiblings – or children born to separate surrogates but created from the same batch of embryos – are not uncommon in India.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Gang Rape in India, Routine and Invisible“[T]he Mumbai case provides an unusual glimpse into a group of bored young men who had committed the same crime often enough to develop a routine. The police say the men had committed at least five rapes in the same spot. Their casual confidence reinforces the notion that rape has been a largely invisible crime here, where convictions are infrequent and victims silently go away.” – see also: Trying to Make Sense of India’s Sexual Violence, State by State from t.greer.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Insects aren’t gay, they’re just enthusiastic! Scientists discover same-sex mating in bugs is down to a rush to reproduce – h/t hbd bibliography!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Mysterious hum keeping people up all night ‘could be mating fish’“A council investigation was launched in Hythe, Southampton after some people had to move away because of the drone ‘pulsating’ through their homes.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Are conspiracy theories destroying democracy?“The more information we have about what governments and corporations are up to the less we seem to trust them. Will conspiracy theories eventually destroy democracy?” – h/t avi tuschman!

(note: comments do not require an email. monitor lizard!)

remember that hmong shooting the other day? when five people were shot?:

“Hmong shootings may have been motivated by grudge”

“A grudge could be the motive in a shooting that put five people in the hospital.

“‘It is a wake-up call to all of us,’ said Linda Lor.

“She is the former executive director for the Hmong Association in Tulsa. On Saturday night there was a Xiong family reunion with all of the clans. In the Hmong community, a family group is known by clans and are divided by last names….

“‘We try in every possible way to mediate the problem through the clan leaders,’ said Lor.

“She said there are about 10 Hmong clans in Tulsa and 200 families. The family leader of the clan will help resolve issues such as marriages, divorce or children or they go to court, which will cost money. In some cases, they make a big statement but are not known to resort to violence like the incident on Saturday….

“She said there was a grudge with the Lees that no one knew about it….”
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this is not a big surprise:

“Arab municipal elections [in israel] dependent on family connections, not ideology”

“Arab towns and villages are likely to have a higher turnout in next week’s municipal elections, compared to Jewish areas. However, unlike Jewish areas, where votes are seen as based on ideology, party, or the experience and skills of the candidates, Arab areas tend to vote for candidates based on family or hamula (‘clan’) connections.

“In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Sami Miaari, an Israeli Arab lecturer at Tel Aviv University in the department of labor studies and a research fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute, said that participation in Arab municipalities will most likely show a 90 percent participation rate.

“The elections in the Arab villages are a struggle between clans and families, with the more powerful families winning the most votes, said Miaari….

“In the Arab sector, families are able to bring out the votes by offering benefits and by tapping into group loyalty and tradition, he said.”
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albanian gangs. eeek!:

“The Albanian mafia under investigation”

“According to the National Anti-Mafia Directorate – an organ of the Italian State’s General Attorney for the fight against organized crime, the Albanian mafia has gained a leading role in Italy’s drug market….

“Albanian crime organisations, usually small to medium size, are based on blood ties and family relationships. ‘Albanian crime is a maze made of many, small groups’, explains Enzo Ciconte, university professor and historian, author of Mafie straniere in Italia. Storia ed evoluzione (Foreign Mafia in Italy. History and Evolution, Rubbettino, 2003). The criminal network is made of ‘people of the village’, people related to each other. This discourages drop-out. As happens with Calabrian clans, fighting silence is not easy. Law enforcement and judges have a tough challenge to deal with.

“Missing pieces

“Some pieces are, however, missing in the photograph of Albanian crime in Italy. First of all, nobody seems to have an idea of the business turnover. Second, who are the clans? Where are they rooted? Which national crime organisation are they emanation of? According to the DCSA, here there is a serious identification issue, since Albanian law allows to change identity with a simple procedure at the local municipal office in one’s place of residence, which suggests that adopting a new name and surname might be common practice among traffickers.

“However, the lack of information about clans and their turnover may also hint that the police struggles even more than usual in hunting down Albanian criminal groups….”
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somali pirates? funded by clan chiefs. h/t mark weiner!:

“Captain Phillips: the forgotten hostages”

“A former Royal Signals officer, he [colonel john steed] first dealt with piracy cases while serving as defence attaché to the British Embassy between 2007 and 2009, during which the British sailors Paul and Rachel Chandler were taken hostage. Recently he worked on counter-piracy issues for the United Nations Political Office for Somalia, but when that office was restructured earlier this year, he set up a new mission, the Secretariat for Regional Maritime Security, to try to resolve the most intractable hostage cases.

“It is not as grand as the title sounds. While the UN has agreed to fund one of his staff, he runs it out of his house in a Nairobi suburb, and does not get paid himself. ‘I am doing it out of the kindness of my heart,’ he says.

“So how does he persuade the pirates to hand over their hostages without a ransom? ‘With great difficulty,’ comes the answer. Most pirate gangs, he points out, are themselves in debt to clan chiefs who have funded their missions, and are reluctant to accept that they have picked one of the few boats whose owners cannot pay a ransom. In previous cases, though, they have been persuaded to accept a cut-and-run payment for their ‘expenses’, which can sometimes be arranged via a whip-round in the shipping industry….”
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previously: clans in the news: syria

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