Archives for posts with tag: endogamy

*update below*

of course the chechens are clannish. the entire caucasus region is clannish (via ed west)! via a tweet from mark weiner (links added by me):

“Russia: War Destroyed Chechnya’s Clan Structure (Part 1)”

“Moscow, 4 January 2002 (RFE/RL) — The Chechens of Russia’s North Caucasus region are a tight-knit society based on extended families, or clans, guided by a council of elders. These clans, which traditionally lived together in a single village, are called ‘taips.’ During Stalin’s infamous deportation of Chechens to Central Asia — and even now, as war and social unrest have forced thousands of Chechens to leave their home villages and scatter throughout the republic or abandon the region altogether — the links remain strong between members of a single taip.

“There are more than 150 taips in Chechnya, each with its own traditions and council of elders….

“Traditionally, taip members can recall the name of their original ancestor from whom the clan originates. They can also recite the names and details about the lives and deaths — often on the battlefield — of at least seven generations of male ancestors.

“Ian Chesnov is an anthropology professor at Russia’s State Humanitarian University in Moscow. He spent several years in Chechnya studying cultural traits. Chesnov says that according to Caucasus tradition, a member of a taip is never abandoned in time of trouble. To the contrary, a taip acts as a kind of family network that makes sure all members have the support they need….

“The taip forms the core of Chechen society — and, many Chechens believe, predetermines the characteristics and personalities of its members. The perceived link between clan and character type is so strong that taips are considered a key aspect of the region’s political life as well….

Chechnya’s taips fall into nine distinct ‘tukums,’ or tribes. Legend holds that all Chechens descend from an original family of nine brothers, a belief represented by the Chechen symbol, which depicts a wolf encircled by nine stars. Batuev describes the tukums’ function:

“‘The taips are organized in nine tukums. A tukum is a political-military union meant to function in cases of [outside] threats or aggression. [The tukums] used to unify all the [Chechen] nation and the taips.'”

A tukum has no leader and is composed of a loose group of clans who share a common ancestry….
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so, do the chechens inbreed/mate closely? according to the working theory around here, they ought to if they’re clannish (and they are). we should also be able to guess that the chechens have a history of inbreeding/close mating since they live in the mountains, and mountainous populations seem to have a tendency to inbreed (see also here) — like the auvergnats, for example.

from Mission in Chechnya (2002) [pg. 80] regarding some rules of the teips:

“4. Absolute marriage prohibition between members of one clan. This was the oldest rule. What caused such a prohibition? If those who are going to marry are in the same clan, they will not have numerous and healthy descendants — this is confirmed by the elders whose observation and life experience testified how negative the influence of close marriage was upon the descendants. The others assured them that the violation of exogamy would bring dangerous illness to those who were going to marry. Marriage prohibition inside a clan is not the consequence of a legislative act. Still, up to now the Chechens try to stick to this principle. Some clans taht took the way of exogamy violation (e.g. tsada khroevstsi) were shunned by the other clans. Why? Because a female relative of the father’s line is considered a sister of any member of the given clan. A blood relationship links with the Chechen people are so strong that they go through seven or eight generations. ‘Close’ or even ‘concerned’ relatives in the father’s line were not given the right either for marriage or for blood feud among themselves. Close relatives of the mother’s line, however, had the right for marriage and blood feud. It should be mentioned that the marriage inside the mother’s line for the first, second and the third generations was not recommended.

and from The Chechens: A Handbook (2005) [pg. 91]:

“Exogamy and endogamy

“To ensure the good health of their offspring, a prerequisite in the harsh mountainous environment, the Chechens tabooed not only close-relative marriage on both sides, but also interdicted association with any blood relative, which included all members of a clan. This meant that a man was constrained to seek his marriage partner from outside the clan, but from within the tribe: *taips* were strictly exogamous, whereas *tukhums* were endogamous entities. These traditional values are still adhered to even among city dwellers. Sources are not unanimous as to the prescribed degree of consanguineous removedness between potential marriage partners. It could be that there is no uniform rule espoused by all *tukhums*. However, at least three generations is the span of disconnectedness commonly agreed upon. Some *taips* of ‘foreign’ origin do not proscribe close kin marriages, this custom hinting at non-Caucasian or Daghestani origin.”

and from Ethnography and Folklore of the Georgia-Chechnya Border: Images, Customs, Myths & Folk Tales of the Peripheries (2008) [pg. 240]:

“Marriages within it are forbidden. The Kists and Ingush maintain this tradition strictly, though in Chechnya this tradition has changed under the influence of Islam. Previously, marriage to one’s third cousin was forbidden; now it is welcomed.

some mixed messages there, but the gist of it i think is:

- no marriage within the patrlineal clan — the teip
– you should, however, marry within the bigger tribe — the tukkhum
– you can marry maternal relatives, but probably not closer than third cousins — this cousin marriage ban is probably a holdover from when the chechens were christian [pg. 256]. in fact, third cousin marriages might even be preferred (this reminds me of the greeks).

all of this sounds almost exactly like the marriage systems amongst some of the populations in the balkans, especially amongst the albanians — i.e. avoiding paternal cousin marriage but allowing maternal (distant) cousin marriage. a bit of exogamy, but also a bit of endogamy.

size also matters. the smaller your population size, the smaller the gene pool is going to be and, so, the closer the mating ultimately — which is what matters here (i think).

there are 1,206,551 chechens in chechnya as of 2010 — let’s call it 1.2M. there are somewhere between 130 and 300 teips (patrlineal clans) in chechnya — let’s call it 215 (that’s right in the middle). that gives us ca. 5,580 individuals per teip.

there are nine tukkhums (the larger tribes) in chechnya. if we assume that there is the same number of teips in each tukkhum (which might not be the case), then that’s ca. 23-24 teips per tukkhum. 5,580 x 24 = 133,920 individuals in a tukkhum. how many of reproductive age (i never know this)? one quarter? one third? if it’s one quarter, you wind up with ca. 16,700 women you are allowed to marry if you’re a chechen guy. compare that to the millions you could marry in the u.s. — if you’re american.

so chechens are close breeders. they’re a small population that marries within an even smaller tribe and may even prefer maternal third cousin marriage.

it’s no wonder, then, that they still engage in blood feuds (just like the albanians). you’d half expect them to build tower houses for protection during clan disputes like the albanians or the maniots.

oh, wait.
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see also: Inside the deadly Russian region the Tsnarnaev family used to call home @foreign policy and Chechen asabiya and the Borat Brothers from steve sailer. *update* - and see also One Blessing Of Outbreeding from roissy.

previously: where do clans come from? and balkan endogamy and more on albanians

(note: comments do not require an email. chechen towers.)

for those of us who prefer to think about things in pictures/drawings/pie charts/hieroglypics rather than numbers (*hbd chick frantically raises her hand in the back of the classroom*), anonymous commenter pointed out this wikipedia page on structural endogamy to me (thanks, anonymous commenter! (^_^) ).

here, at long last, are a bunch of people diagramming mating patterns. ACTUAL mating patterns from real world examples. in detail.

below, for instance, are what the mating patterns — and the resultant connections between the members of the group — in a turkish nomadic clan look like (i haven’t read about this specific example yet, but i’m going to assume that this diagram represents a case of regular preferred father’s brother’s daughter’s [fbd] marriage since that’s pretty common amongst turkish nomadic clans):

structural endogamy - turkish nomad clan

the nodes that you see there, i.e. the colored dots, are married couples, not individuals. as you can see, this is a very tightly related clan with nearly everyone being connected somehow to the two founding couples. there’s a tight “core” to this clan, but it does expand in later generations simply due to the increase in the number of its members.

here’s a more detailed diagram of what i think must be the same turkish clan:

structural endogamy - turkish nomad clan 02

yeah. complicated!

and here’s a different mating pattern altogether mapped out. this is from a mexican village in which anything closer than, and including, marriage to a second cousin was not allowed (sounds like the influence of christianity to me, but i could be wrong about that), however marriage within the village was preferred (the village was studied in the late 1970s and the authors describe it as having been in a transitional phase in between a traditional nahuatl way of life and a more modern mestizo stage):

structural endogamy - belen mexico

as you can see, everyone’s still connected since most people married within the village, but the relationships are not as close as in the more closely inbreeding turkish clan. neat!

i’m sure i’ll be looking further into this structural endogamy or (marital) relinking as it’s also sometimes called. there’s even a whole book on the subject!

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

here we go. from Maya Society under Colonial Rule: The Collective Enterprise of Survival [pg. 59], three sets of yucatec maya population size estimates/educated guesstimates (take your pick!) for the colonial period (click on chart for LARGER view):

i thought i could combine these numbers with restall’s info on mayan family/mating patterns, which are based upon census and testamentary records, and see, maybe, just how close the mating patterns were amongst the colonial maya. here’s what restall had to say:

- there were a total of 270 patronym groups (chibalob) in the yucatan living in 200 communities (cah).
– a typical cah would have had 30-40 patronym groups in it.
– a typical family would have marriage alliances with four or five other patronym groups.
– people generally didn’t marry outside of their cah (village, barrio, community).

you had to marry outside your patronym group, and it’s likely that a good number of marriages were between maternal cousins (i know – i haven’t posted about this yet – sorry!). it was probably the preferred form of marriage anyway, although that doesn’t mean that everyone married a maternal cousin.

how many individuals are typically of reproductive age in any given society? were in colonial maya society? i have no idea. let’s assume — and this probably wasn’t true — but let’s assume that they had a stable population — not expanding, not contracting (just for the sake of argument). if we divy up the population’s age cohorts by five — 0-5, 5-10, 10-15, etc. — going up to, let’s say, age 70, we’ve got 21.4% of the population in the 10-25 marrying age range. (the colonial maya weren’t polygamous, btw — the pre-columbian aztecs were though.)

so — 200,000 maya in 270 patronym groups = ca. 740 individuals in each patronym group. 21.4% of that gives you ca. 158 people of reproductive age per patronym group. an equal number of men and women? maybe, maybe not — but let’s say yes, so that’s ca. 79 reproductive men and women per each patronym group. and your patronym group was connected to something like five others according to restall, so that’s a potential 395 individuals you could marry. sounds pretty good!

but remember, the maya usually didn’t marry outside their cah. that’s 200,000 people across 200 cah, so 1,000 people in each cah. divided between 30-40 patronym groups — let’s call it 35 — so 28-29 individuals in each patronym group in each cah. 21.4% of those are in the marriage age range = six individuals (three men, three women). times the five patronym groups that your patronym group is allied to leaves you with just 15 possible spouses for you to choose from. that’s a pretty narrow range. generation after generation.

and chances are, people would’ve married one of their maternal cousins anyway.

colonial yucatec maya marriage patterns, over a three-hundred or so year period (1550-1850), were probably either quite inbred and/or very endogamous.

previously: mating patterns in colonial mexico: the mayans

(note: comments do not require an email. yucatec maya gentleman. (^_^) )

i thought i’d start looking at the mating patterns of mexicans. it’s a tall order, i feel, ’cause there are/were lots of different groups of native mexicans: mayans, aztecs (guess we’re supposed to call them nahuas now), zapotecs, mixtecs, and so on and so forth. *whew!* well, may as well get started…

mexicans, today, don’t marry their cousins much (they’re good catholics i guess) — 0.3%-1.3% cousin marriage rates were recorded in the 1960s [pgs. 1-2, pdf]. during the 1500s through the 1800s, the general pattern, i think, was very local endogamy — marriage within what the spanish would call el barrio — and for some groups, like the mayans, regular, repeated marriages between a handful of clans. interestingly, local marriage (within the barrio) still happened at least in some places in 1960s mexico (see The Barrios of San Andreas Cholula, pg. 65+ – i’ll come back to this in a future post) — old habits die hard i suppose.

some groups in colonial mexico seem to have allowed cousin marriage, but not necessarily to have preferred it. there are good indications that the mayans preferred cross-cousin marriage, but i’ll come back to that in yet another future post. right now, the mating patterns/family types of the yucatec mayans during the colonial period.

if the uplanders vs. lowlanders theory is correct, a h*ckuva lot of mexicans ought to have been inbreeders. the mayans living waaay out on the yucatan peninsula should have practiced more outbreeding compared to other mexican populations though, unless they just did what their mayan brethren living further to the southwest (and, therefore, further upland) did:

here’s the mayan territory in dark beige (those are the aztecs nahuas in mint green):

the mayans lived together in extended family groupings, each nuclear family in its own house, with the extended family sharing house-plots and farmland (if they were farmers). what later became known as the barrios — the hamlets or small towns comprised of these extended family house-plots — were called “cah” by the mayans. every extended family was part of a larger patrilineage or patronym group known as a chibal (pl. chibalob). reminiscent of china, you could not marry within your patronym in mayan society. so, you might, perhaps, marry cousins/other relatives on your mother’s side, but not on your father’s (all children took their father’s patronym).

from The Maya World: Yucatec Culture and Society, 1550-1850 [pgs. 17, 92]:

“Within a given cah, members of a chibal — those of the same patronym — formed a kind of extended family, most of whose members seem to have pusued their common interest wherever possible through political factionalism, the acquisition and safeguarding of land, and the creation of marriage-based alliances with other chibalob of similar or higher socioeconomic status. Such marriages were in part necessary because chibalob were exogamous, a principle that seems to have been applied across cah lines, although after the conquest there was no formal organization of chibal members beyond the cah level. Chibalob were closer to exogamous clans than to lineages, bearing similarities to both, although the Maya term more accurately reflects their particular combination of characteristics….

“The maintenance of the Maya taboo on intrachibal marriage reflects the maintenance of the practice of interchibal marital alliance, which created multi-chibal households. The combination of these households was a cah-wide network of chibal interest-groups. The effect was to help perpetuate the class system, since chibal interest groups tended to consist of families at similar socioeconomic levels.”
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from The Ties That Bind: Social Cohesion and the Yucatec Maya Family we get some potentially useful population numbers (which i am too tired to think about tonight) [pgs. 363-365]:

“I have noted about 270 patronym-groups in the colonial record, represented in documentation that has survived from almost all of the approximately 200 Maya communites in the province….

Community endogamy is suggested by testamentary evidence from Ixil, where every single one of sixty-eight couples living in the early eighteenth century represented community-endogamous marriages (sixty-six of them, or 97 percent, were natives of Ixil, the remaining two couples having married fellow community members elsewhere and subsequently moving to Ixil). This data contrasts somewhat with evidence from a tribute census of 1721 and that of late-colonial parish registers. The 1721 census show that eighteen of twenty-one communities in one region of the province contained residents born in another community, although they were a definite minority (of these twenty-one communities, half contained between zero and 12 percent of adults born in another community, and the rest had up to 32 percent nonnative adults, with one community showing a figure of 57 percent). Parish records show that while community exogamy was substantial in certain communities, it was neither a widespread nor a random phenomenon, nor did it represent a gradual migration from small communities, to regional centers, to Merida; rather, it was restricted to certain communities that maintained strong ties with a small number of other communities (Sotuta with Teabo and Tiho, for example, and Tecoh, Ticul, and Homun with one particular community within Tiho, San Sebastian). I would argue, therefore, that while data on migration and marriage reveals a wide range of individual community variants, community endogamy was the norm; in the vast majority of communities, the majority of the population married fellow residents, while a minority was subject to migration and marriage patterns that were usually community distinct….”

“Patronym-group clustering meant that a small proportion of the total number of patronyms were represented in any given community…. [A] typical family living in a modest-size community would be familiar with thirty to forty local patronyms — and would also be related to half a dozen or more of them.

“As patronym-groups were exogamous, the family members on a typical house-plot would not all hold the same patronym; women retained their patronyms after marriage, although children took their fathers’ surnames. As children married and some stayed on the house-plot, more patronym-groups would become represented in the household complex. The multipatronym nature of the household might suggest that the latter was more important than patronym-group organization, and that no doubt would have been the case had love’s whimsical nature been the sole factor in marriage choice. However, where the documentary sources are dense enough, visible patronym-related patterns reveal the organization significance of marriage decisions.

“For example, the 1570 Cozumel census and the collections of wills from seventeenth-century Cacalchen and eighteenth century Ixil show that families tended to form alliance groups of, typically, four or five coresident patronym-groups of similar socioeconomic standing in the community. The class structure of patronym-groups within a community can be compiled using testamentary information…. In Ixil in the 1760s, for example, there were forty patronym-groups (as recorded in testaments) that can be placed into eight socioeconomic levels; at the top, the circle of marital alliances tightens (eleven patronym-groups comprise four levels of nobility), and at the bottom, it widens considerably, although practices designed to tighten the circle, while still conforming to patronym-groups exogamy — such as preferential bilateral cross-cousin marriage — remain in evidence.

so, again, rather like china, we have handfuls of patronym groups — clans — marrying and re-marrying one another (but outside the patronym) over the course of, at least, at couple of hundred years. the researcher, matthew restall, found around 270 patronyms in 200 mayan communities. i wonder if he’s published any estimated population figures anywhere? from that we could try to work out actual inbreeding rates/patterns! cool.

(note: comments do not require an email. just when you thought it was safe … death to america!)

look who else builds tower houses!:

the maniots are peloponnesian greeks who live — or, up until pretty recently, lived — in a clannish society (or so says wikipedia — ctrl+f for “clan” on this page). the mani peninsula is the middle of the three peloponnese “fingers” that stick southwards into the med — and up until modern times it was hard to get to (or into):

“The terrain is mountainous and inaccessible…. Until recent years many Mani villages could be reached only by sea.”

the explanation given for these tower houses is that they were built to protect the maniots from the ottomans, but look what else characterized maniot society — vendettas (see also here)!:

“Another important aspect of Maniot culture were the vendettas which frequently plagued Mani. Usually, the decision to start a vendetta was made at a family gathering. The main aim of a vendetta was usually to wipe out the other family. The families involved locked themselves in their towers and whenever they got the chance murdered members of the opposing family. The other families in the village normally locked themselves in their towers in order not to get in the way of the fighting.

“Some vendettas went on for months, sometimes years. In vendettas, the families could have a truce or treva, if one family needed to attend a religious ceremony or when it was time to harvest the crops. As soon as the treva ended, the killing could resume. Vendettas usually ended when one family was exterminated or when the defeated family left the town. Sometimes families came to terms, and vendettas stopped when the Turks invaded…. Vendettas continued after the liberation of Greece even though the Regency tried to demolish the towers. The Maniot vendetta is considered the most vicious and ruthless. One of the last vendettas on record required the Greek Army with heavy artillery support to force it to a stop.”

heh.

the maniots eagerly joined the fight for greece’s independence, but then they didn’t want to be governed from athens — or anywhere else. they wanted rid of the ottomans and didn’t want anyone to govern them but themselves. here’s what happened (from here and here):

“The last bey of Mani, Petros Mavromichalis, was among the leaders of the Greek War of Independence. He proclaimed the revolution at Areopoli on March 17, 1821. The Maniots contributed greatly to the struggle, but once Greek independence was won, they wanted to retain local autonomy. During the reign of Ioannis Kapodistrias, they violently resisted outside interference to the point of killing Kapodistrias….

“After the revolution, Petrobey [petros] became a member of the first Greek Senate, under the leadership of Ioannis Kapodistrias. The two men soon clashed as a result of Kapodistrias’ insistence on establishing a centralized regional administration based on political appointees, replacing the traditional system of family loyalties. Petros’ brother Tzanis led a revolt against the appointed governor of Lakonia; the two brothers were invited to meet Kapodistrias and negotiate a solution but when they showed up, they were arrested. From his prison cell, Petros tried to negotiate a settlement with Kapodistrias; the latter refused. The crisis was then settled by more traditional means: Petros’ brother Konstantinos and his son Georgios assassinated Kapodistrias on October 9, 1831.”

mountain people just want to be left alone.

the maniots, btw, are rumored to be the descendants of the spartans. if true — cool!

and, speaking of tower houses and inbreeding and clannishness and tribalism and all that: shibam!

previously: more on albanians and the flatlanders vs. the mountain people and ελλάδα and more on greece

(note: comments do not require an email. woman from mani. cover your neck!)

(^_^)

from Ecological Sensitivity and Resistance of Cultures in Asia (southeast asia in particular) published in 1978(!):

“Ecological influences on culture have been demonstrated by several investigators. Many such studies have been done in Asia where two ecological niches extend over vast areas. One of these is the highland or mountainous territory 500 meters above sea level; the other consists of plains and plateaus under 500 meters….

“…The HRAF files were used to compare cultures in the highlands with those in the lowlands. The files indicate that certain items may be ecology sensitive (that is, more apt to change with ecologic shift). These include agricultural methods, sociopolitical organization and preferred marriage forms….

“Sociopolitical Organization. … Lowland societies had larger communities, larger states, more nonhereditary local head-men, complex social distinctions, and exogamy. More lowland [sic - should be upland] groups had small communities, small states, hereditary headmen, no exogamy, and less complex class distinctions.

“Family, Marriage and Kinship. … Eskimo/Hawaiian cousin terms corresponded to the quadrilateral/nonlateral cousin marriages found in lowland cultures. Iroquois/Omaha/Crow cousin terms were found in association with matrilineal/patrilineal cousin marriages in the highlands….”

eskimo kinship terms are the ones that we use in the anglo/western world, and the eskimo kinship system is a very generalized one — eg. we don’t distinguish between maternal or paternal cousins, they’re all just “cousins.” so lowland southeast asians have similar kinship terms to us — or they use the hawaiian system which is even more generalized — all your brothers and male cousins are just “brother” and all your sisters and female cousins are just “sister.”

the iroquois, omaha, and crow systems used by the uplanders are all more complex, each distinguishing cousins in different ways — but none of them are as complex as the sudanese system which is the one used in the arab world — and in china. and it used to be used by the anglo-saxons before the Big Change in kinship terms in medieval europe.

“…Discussion

“As observed by previous students of southeast Asia, the most parsimonious explanation for these sociopolitical and marriage findings is the production of surplus food in the lowlands. Intensive agriculture favors both increased population density and increased total population. Communities become larger, nation states are formed, and kingship comes into existence. The cetripetal nature of kingship government probably accounts for nonhereditary local headmen replacing hereditary headmen. Surplus rice allows a money economy, towns, a priestly class, social stratification, teachers, and writing.

“Swidden agriculturists in the highlands, on the other hand, maintain simple social and political organization. Small groups migrate more easily, keeping themselves politically and socially intact during and after the move. Each family, even that of the village chief, must raise its own food. Class stratification is simple and large towns are nonexistent. There are part-time shamans, but no priestly class. Even though writing systems (such as Chinese ideography) are near at hand and readily usable, absence of surplus food and large communities obstruct the development of literacy. Such small autonomous communities, numbering between 50 and 400 persons, do not form nation states.

These data again demonstrate the political role of preferred marriage forms. Exogamy and lack of cousin marriage within large lowland nation-states aid in uniting disparate clans and villages. By contrast, the absence of exogamy and the presence of preferred cousin marriage intensify relationships within the small upland social units. Among both societies, the preferred marriage types comprise a social strategy that reinforces the political organization of the group.

yup!

i wonder if these se asian “swidden agriculturalists” are/were also pastoralists (since cousin marriage and pastoralism seem to go together — see the arab world), or if just living in a marginal — and remote — upland environment is enough to push a group towards inbreeding, irregardless of whether one’s group is pastoralist or agriculturalist?

(note: comments do not require an email. dreamed i was an eskimo….)

there are two broad groups of albanians, the gheg speakers in the north of the country (the blues on the map) and the tosk speakers in the south (the greens):

Dialects_of_the_Albanian_Language

today, the ghegs are more clannish/tribal than the tosks. there are historical (stemming from topographical) reasons for this (emphases and links added by me):

“The social structure of the country was, until the 1930s, basically tribal in the north and semifeudal in the central and southern regions. The highlanders of the north retained their medieval pattern of life until well into the twentieth century and were considered the last people in Europe to preserve tribal autonomy. In the central and southern regions, increasing contact with the outside world and invasions and occupations by foreign armies had gradually weakened tribal society.

“Traditionally there have been two major subcultures in the Albanian nation: the Gegs in the north and the Tosks in the south. The Gegs, partly Roman Catholic but mostly Muslim, lived until after World War II in a mountain society characterized by blood feuds and fierce clan and tribal loyalties. The Tosks, whose number included many Muslims as well as Orthodox Christians, were less culturally isolated mainly because of centuries of foreign influence. Because they had came under the rule of the Muslim landed aristocracy, the Tosks had apparently largely lost the spirit of individuality and independence that for centuries characterized the Gegs, especially in the highlands.

“Until the end of World War II, society in the north and, to a much lesser extent, in the south, was organized in terms of kinship and descent. The basic unit of society was the extended family, usually composed of a couple, their married sons, the wives and children of the sons, and any unmarried daughters. The extended family formed a single residential and economic entity held together by common ownership of means of production and common interest in the defense of the group. Such families often included scores of persons, and, as late as 1944, some encompassed as many as sixty to seventy persons living in a cluster of huts surrounding the father’s house.

Extended families were grouped into clans whose chiefs preserved patriarchal powers over the entire group. The clan chief arranged marriages, assigned tasks, settled disputes, and set the course to be followed concerning essential matters such as blood feuds and politics. Descent was traced from a common ancestor through the male line, and brides usually were chosen from outside the clan. Clans in turn were grouped into tribes.

“In the Tosk regions of the south, the extended family was also the most important social unit, although patriarchal authority had been diluted by the feudal conditions usually imposed by the Muslim bey….”
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here’s a really (REALLY) long excerpt from Poverty in Albania: A Qualitative Assessment with some notes of my own thrown in here and there. the excerpted bits are italicized while my comments are not. the quote from the book comes from pages 83-90. the book itself was published in 2002 and comprises the results of a series of surveys undertaken across albania by world bank researchers in the late 1990s and early 2000s (again, emphases and links added by me):

“Civil Society

“People in all the study sites generally want a capable government that solves problems and creates opportunities. A combination of factors — inadequate government presence, poor management of government functions, corruption, and lack of confidence that elections will change conditions — has created a vacuum of authority in parts of Albania. In certain rural locations, particularly in the north and east, there is no functioning government. In these areas, institutions such as extended families/clans are filling the gaps of authority…. Further, Albanians’ wariness of other groups in general — other families, ethnic groups, and religious groups — fragments civil society and confines non-governmental solutions to local areas….

“Filling the Vacuum

“Two forces are rising to fill the vacuum of government authority — the traditional fis structure, and the small, ad-hoc aid programs of foreign governments and private organizations in some eastern parts of the country….

“The fis is even more important for filling the power vacuum. An elder in Mirdita describes authority there: ‘I am elected elder of this village. The water resources are distributed according to the old traditions, based on the fis. Here things are settled based on the fis, not the state. My fis is composed of my uncle, first cousins, and also fourth cousins. When there is discord that involves injuries … it is not the state that gets involved to resolve the problem, but the wisest of the elderly men in the fis. We discuss how to resolve the problem and develop a consensus. Then we make the decision and the problem is resolved.’

“Re-emergence of the Fis and Canun

A fis is a group of people descended from the same great grandfather. This extended family is bound together tightly by tradition, culture, and a set of rules called the Canun, which were formalized by Lek Dukagjini in the 1400s. The Canun withered under Communism but has resumed governing importance in some areas. As Remzi, a fis elder in Kukes, explains, ‘The Canun is now starting to function because the government is weak … and the government’s laws are not being properly implemented by the state.’ Fis in some areas are now using the traditional Canun, or a modern variation of it, to govern themselves. As noted in the chapter on agriculture, issues of land reform, land use, irrigation water distribution, and other matters are being determined by the fis structure using the Canun as the basis for decisions….

Fis are found primarily in northern rural Albania (Kukes, Mirdita, and Shkordra), but they also exist in the highlands of Korca and among the Roma populations….

“Fis Governance

In each village, there may be as few as 3 or as many as 10 fis. As noted earlier, a fis is defined as a group of those people who descend directly from a common great grandfather. In practical terms, each fis comprises three to four generations. The number of people in each fis can range from fewer than 10 to more than 500 people. The selection of leaders within a fis varies, but there are some common practices. Each fis is led by a male who is elected by other males in the fis. Often the elected leader is the oldest active male, who is responsible for setting and enforcing standards of behavior. He usually does not make important decisions alone, but in consultation with other respected males in the fis, including brothers and sons, and extending to cousins….

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“Relations Within and Among the Fis

‘When someone in our fis makes a mistake, even if he is 40 years old, the entire fis gets together and orders him not to commit further mistakes and put shame on us all. This is our way to preserve tradition. There are seven or eight fis in the village, and we are in competition with each other to be the best one. When one of us makes a mistake or commits a crime, the entire fis is humiliated and its reputation is hurt…. When I have disputes within the fis, I try to resolve them within the fis. But if I cannot do so, I sometimes will invite and elder from another fis to listen to our problems and provide mature judgement. And if we do not get a satisfying result from this, we address the problem to the committee of elders in the village.’ – Hamit, an elder in Shkodra
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“Where the government is totally absent, the committee of elders governs without a government institution by managing common work and the relationships among the various fis. In these situations, the committee of elders uses some version of the Canun to set rules and govern. According to Preng, and elder in Mirdita, ‘I am the elected leader of the fis…. Here, things are settled by the fis and we do not rely on the government. My fis is composed of my uncle, first cousins, and also fourth cousins. When there is a dispute that results in injury, it is not the government that gets involved but the elders who get together and decide the fee. A committee of elders, the wisest men from all the fis, discusses the problem and resolves it based on consensus. When the fee is paid, then the problem is considered resolved…. If the criminal has no money to pay the fee, then he is killed. The fee depends on the issue and how events happened….

“Applying the Canun

“The application of Canun varies by fis. A few apply the traditional Canun, even though they recognize its shortcomings. They feel that, despite the traditional Canun’s weaknesses, it is the best solution in the absence of government. In one area of Kukes, an elder describes the Canun as ‘unprincipled and not fair as the laws. It is very tough and incites disputes and revenge. For instance, according to the Canun, if someone hits you, then you have the right to kill him…. It has some very precise rules, though in today’s society it is hard to implement the rules…. For instance, the Canun does not allow my daughter to bring bread or coffee in the room when guests visit. Women must wear a scarf on their head. A stranger who is visiting your house must not shake hands with your wife or daughter.’ The Canun has returned to an extent that blood feuds have re-emerged. In some areas, such as Shkodra and northern Kukes, families reportedly are confined to their own homes to protect themselves during a feud. In these cases, friends and neighbors bring them food because the family cannot grow their own food or otherwise work while feuding.

“Despite the use of traditional Canun rules in some areas, most fis have adapted the Canun to better fit, in their view, the values of the modern era….

“Dispute Resolution and Other Functions

“… The need for such dispute resolution increased after 1990, due to new freedoms and disputes over property rights, just as the government’s ability to resolves such disputes began to decline…. According to an elder in Shkodra, ‘After 1990, conflict increased compared to the time of my father. The Communist regime caused many fights because it took land from its owners and distributed it equally to everybody, and encouraged people to construct houses on other people’s land….

albania’s committee of nationwide reconciliation estimates that there were ca. “10,000 murders for honour, blood feud and revenge between 1990 and 2009″ in the country, although it’s difficult to know for sure what the real numbers are. i think it’s safe to say A LOT, though. the albanian tradition of gjakmarrja is basically an eye-for-an-eye moral system in which honor is all-important — the honor of the extended family. albanians (and other groups in the balkans) have for centuries had purpose built boltholes to hide in when they and their families were the objects of a blood feud (check out the border reivers’ bastle houses, too):

i think the long history and current prevalence of blood feuds in albania and throughout the region illustrates that greying wanderer’s characterization of the balkans as “full of people who hate the people in the adjacent enclosed ancient valley” is not far off the mark.
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interestingly:

“Source of Power

The principle source of power for a fis is its moral standing among the other fis. An elder in Shkodra says, ‘Our moral force and authority derive from good behavior.’ This moral standing is built over generations. Fis that historically have been strong are more likely to enjoy power now. An elder in Shkodra says, ‘Blood is never forgotten. Mother and father have one name. Blood has one name. After 20 or 100 years, the blood of mothers and fathers is not forgotten.’

Moral standing is judged according to the behavior of the members of a fis. Living according to the laws set by the fis, working hard, being kind and gracious to both neighbors and strangers, showing generosity to others, and having a family that is free of conflict are some of the criteria by which fis judge each other. An elder in Shkodra explains, ‘A good man, according to the Canun, is one who works, is wise, is loved by everybody, who does not humiliate anyone, and who pulls his family together. A bad man is one who does the opposite. The good fis are polite, have culture, and use common sense. A bad fis is not able to run its own affairs properly, let alone enjoy proper relations with other fis.’ An elder in Kukes, who asserts that his family is the ‘best’ fis in the community, describes similar criteria for judging a fis there: ‘My grandfather was known as the representative of the best fis in the village. Now we have 20 families in the village and maybe someone from our fis has committed some wrongs, but we still enjoy the reputation of our generosity and hospitality. For instance, if I see a stranger passing by on the road, I invite him to visit my home and have coffee with us. I preserve the reputation of the fis. When I visit my neighbor, I make a contribution. When he visits me, he makes a contribution. When someone asks to marry my daughter who does not come from a well-respected fis, I do not permit my daughter to marry that person.’

so, unlike in western europe where a man is judged by his character and behavior alone, amongst albanians (and i’m guessing other balkan populations) one’s moral character is all wrapped up with that of one’s extended family. this is something we hear throughout muslim societies in the arab world and middle east as well (e.g. all the honor killings) — not surprising when they are very inbred, too.
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Marriages among members of the same fis are not permitted, even when the two people are seven or eight generations removed. Because one must marry someone from another fis, all marriages involve fis politics. Marriage is very important to determining the stature of a fis in the community. Much time is spent determining the suitability of various suitors, based on the reputation of the fis and the perceived behavior of the prospective bride and groom. Because the reputation of the fis is important to power relations in the community, a woman has little influence in selecting her husband. According to an elder in Kukes, ‘Couples are engaged not through love, but through a mediator….”

since the ban on marrying relations within the fis only applies to paternal relations, it could very well be that albanians frequently marry maternal relatives — close or distant maternal cousins. i haven’t seen any info on this either way for albanians, but another balkan group — bosnian muslims — actually have a preference for marrying in-laws which includes maternal relatives. some albanians are christians (orthodox and roman catholic), so presumably they more-or-less follow the christian ban on marrying close cousins — as a general rule, that is — although all sorts of europeans regularly work around this. there should be no such cousin-marriage ban amongst albanian muslisms.

in any case, albanians are marrying (especially traditionally) very endogamously since they normally marry someone from a fis in the village or, perhaps, a neighboring village.
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onwards:

“Wariness of Other Groups

“The re-emergence of the fis highlights the importance of family structures in addressing problems formerly handled by government. But the importance of family is not limited to northern districts and Korca. People throughout the country feel that family affiliations is an important factor in choosing their friends and neighbors. Ethnic and religious affiliation also affect relationships within and between communities. As a result, these groups tend to be wary of each other. Table 12 details people’s attitudes toward their neighbors. [click on table for LARGER view]:

About 77 percent of people prefer that their neighbors are members of the same fis or family, with 59 percent strongly preferring it. About 52 percent prefer that their neighbors share the same religion, while about 44 percent prefer that neighbors are of the same ethnicity. It appears that family affiliation is more important than religion or ethnicity in determining feels [sic] about neighbors.

The civil society that either shares space with government or fills a vacuum left by government comprises a series of groups that are wary of each other and sometimes conflict. Consequently, there are few informal institutions, organizations, and networks that cross large geographic areas. Those that do exist, such as the emigration networks into Greece and Italy, are based on single extended families or single local communities. So while informal institutions and organizations are significant assets, they may be limited in their capacity to address problems across different families, religions, and ethnicities.”

like other clannish/tribal societies, albania doesn’t manage to have a civil society. not in the sense that nw europeans have. clannishness and tribalism seem to go along with inbreeding — either consanguineous and/or endogamous mating patterns — and i think the causation goes from inbreeding -> clannishness/tribalism (although certainly being clannish probably encourages further inbreeding). and the underlying mechanism is, as steve sailer pointed out ages ago, somehow related to kin selection and inclusive fitness.

albanians seem to be some of the most inbred peoples in europe — looking at their genomes, they have the highest frequencies of within-country “blocks of ibd” (identity by descent) as compared to other europeans which suggests to me that they’ve been inbreeding for a long time, too. that, i think, is part of the reason for the high ibd rates amongst albanians. given their history, then, it shouldn’t be surprising that they still are very clannish/tribal and don’t manage to build a civil society.
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see also:
Albania: Blood Feuds — ‘Blood For Blood’ (Part 1)
Blood feuds still boiling in Albania – feuding taken to a new level when a 17 year old girl is killed.
Ancient blood feuds cast long shadow over hopes for a modern Albania
Peacemaker breaks the ancient grip of Albania’s blood feuds
No way out
The Forgiveness of Blood – movie.
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previously: balkan endogamy

(note: comments do not require an email. albanians.)

nick says: “The Balkans had the 7th cousin law, that forbid them to marry anyone closer than the 7th cousin.”

i did a little googling on that and found what i think will probably prove to be a general pattern for balkan populations: a ban on marrying in the patriline, but marrying on the mother’s side is ok and even preferred. so the seventh-cousin law that nick is referring to relates only to paternal cousins.

this is just a preliminary look at the mating patterns in the balkans, btw. i need to do a lot more research on this.

anyway, this pattern of avoiding marriage in the patrline but preferring marriage to maternal relatives seems to hold for bosnian muslims, albanians, and macedonian slavs.

regarding the macedonian slavs: “The genealogical reckoning is primarily agnatic [i.e. through the male line - h. chick]. Kinship terminology distinguishes father’s brother (stric) from the mother’s brother (ujak), as well as using a special word to indicate sister’s or daughter’s husband (zet) and a woman married to a set of brothers (jetrva). On the agnatic side, marriage is forbidden up to the ninth generation, while the matrilineal first cousins could be regarded as possible mates if it was not for the canonical prohibition.

that’s the christian church’s ban on cousin marriage. but otherwise, marriage to matrilineal relatives is ok — and macedonian slavs would’ve approved of matrilineal first cousin marriage if it wasn’t for their church.

regarding the bosnian muslims, bringa reports (pg. 146) that “there is a preference for marrying agnatic affines.” agnatic refers to the paternal line — so your father and your paternal grandfather and all your paternal aunts and uncles, etc. affines are in-laws. so there is a preference amongst bosnian muslims to marry their in-laws connected to the father’s side of the family.

the most obvious members of that group would simply be one’s maternal relatives, i.e. your father’s in-laws (see?). but agnatic affines could also include, for instance, your paternal uncle’s wife’s relatives.

i know — it all gets kinda complicated. the important thing, though, is it’s all a sort of endogamous mating.

finally, the albanians. i’m going to reproduce a long-ish passage from State Collapse and Reconstruction in the Periphery: Political Economy, Ethnicity and Development in Yugoslavia, Serbia and Kosovo. just skip it if you’re bored already, but it talks about the clannishness or tribalness (the author’s words, not mine!) of the albanians and how their mating patterns have, at least traditionally, been endogamous, including marriage to maternal relatives (this is not strange, btw, since marriage to maternal relatives seems generally to be the most popular form of close family marriage around the world) [pgs. 64-67]:

“A brief description of Albanian society is required here. Albanians are divided into two language or dialect groups, the Gheg and the Tosk, with the Tosk dominating in southern Albania and the Gheg in northern Albania and the highlands (the division is roughly at the Shkumbi river). The Albanians in Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia are Ghegs (with some exceptions in southern Macedonia). Traditional structures, tribal or clan-based, as well as village community-based forms of social organisation remained important among the Albanian population in Kosovo throughout the Yugoslav period. There are notable elements of continuity in traditional loyalty structure and customary law (including the practice of blood feud). The terms ‘tribe’ and ‘clan’ are contested, but we may instead use the Albanian terms. The Albanian term ‘fis’ refers to a large groups which claim descent from one common male ancestor. Each fis is divided into sub-branches. Marriage within the same fis (based on the male line) is considered incestuous even if the ‘actual’ relationship is, say, nine or ten generations back (which does not apply on the maternal side).[12] In Kosovo there are about thirteen fises. A smaller group which traditionally has existed within the fis is a brotherhood or ‘vellazeri’, which is similar to the Balkan form of extended family, the ‘Zadruga’, but differs from it, for example, in that there was not a common budget. A ‘mehala’ is another term for a subgroup consisting of a number of closely related houses. A house, or a ‘shpi’ could itself consist of an extended family — something still existing in Kosovo although they have declined considerably during the Yugoslav period…. It should be noted that within the same fis some members can be Muslim and other Catholic. Among the Albanians there are Catholics, Muslims and Orthodox. The Orthodox prevail in south Albania (among the Tosk), whereas Kosovo is predominantly Muslim….

The traditional Albanian village consisted of the (often fortified) houses (kulle) of the extended families, but had no public spaces. There were no cafes or inns, or public buildings of any kind. All matters relating to society, or social life, were discussed inside the family houses, and the house was thereby of particular importance in Albanian cultural life…. In contrast to the pattern in northwestern Europe, for example, there were no intermediary associations or public spheres between the individual, or family, and the state and hence nothing resembling what has been called ‘civil society’ in the usage of eighteenth- or nineteenth-century thinkers. Indeed there was neither the social structure nor social infrastructure or type of economy for such an analytical term as ‘civil society’ to be applied; social life was shaped by the extended family (with its house), the clan and the village, and there was no social organisation beyond the extended family apart from the clan. All legal matters were strictly regulated in customary law and applied by the clans, or mediated in meetings by the elders (kuvend)….

“The Albanians … had no aspirations to an Albanian state before the twentieth century, but were quite content with remaining inside the Ottoman state. Although there may have been a growing Albanian identity, beyond the fis, especially in the nineteenth century, there was not really any expression of Albanian nationalism. Several factors made expressions of nationhood unlikely. There were disputes between clans, and the Albanians did not share a single religion, but were divided between Islam, Orthodox Christianity and Catholicism. The lifestyles of, for example, the Tosk in the south or in the coastal trading ports and the Gheg of the highlands were quite different.

“[12] As noted by Edith Durham, the Catholic Church prohibited marriage to the sixth degree, but on the maternal side much closer relatives might enter marriage. See Durham (1909: 22); The practice of prohibiting marriage within the fis remains today.”

previously: mating patterns in medieval eastern europe and invention of the modern world

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