Archives for posts with tag: inbreeding

here’s a really interesting looking new book!:

An Intimate War: An Oral History of the Helmand Conflict

“Mike Martin’s oral history of Helmand underscores the absolute imperative of understanding the highly local, personal, and non-ideological nature of internal conflict in much of the ‘third’ world.

“‘An Intimate War’ tells the story of the last thirty-four years of conflict in Helmand Province, Afghanistan as seen through the eyes of the Helmandis. In the West, this period is often defined through different lenses — the Soviet intervention, the civil war, the Taliban, and the post-2001 nation-building era. Yet, as experienced by local inhabitants, the Helmand conflict is a perennial one, involving the same individuals, families and groups, and driven by the same arguments over land, water and power.

“This book — based on both military and research experience in Helmand and 150 interviews in Pashto — offers a very different view of Helmand from those in the media. It demonstrates how outsiders have most often misunderstood the ongoing struggle in Helmand and how, in doing so, they have exacerbated the conflict, perpetuated it and made it more violent — precisely the opposite of what was intended when their interventions were launched.”

from an article by martin in today’s telegraph:

“Britain didn’t understand the enemy in Helmand”

“I would argue that our performance – in terms of achieving our objectives – has been very poor. In the case of Afghanistan, and specifically Helmand Province, where the majority of our forces have been based, we have failed to understand the Helmandis. We have also failed to understand their culture, their history and their motivations.

“Most importantly, we have singularly failed to understand the Helmandi conflict. And to paraphrase Clausewitz, the most important thing to do in war is understand what type of war you are fighting. Many non-Helmandis view the violence through the narrative adopted by the international community. According to the ‘insurgency narrative’ widely espoused by Western governments, a legitimate Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA), which is recognised and supported by the international community, is violently opposed by a movement of insurgents, called the Taliban, who have sanctuary in Quetta, Pakistan.

“Thus, the Taliban are religiously inspired insurgents who are opposed to the democratic and women’s rights that the GIRoA embodies and promotes. But this ‘insurgency narrative’ does not fit with my experiences as an officer. I went to Helmand several times (in and out of uniform), with appropriate gaps between visits for study and reflection, and this analysis seemed further and further from the events that I was observing and participating in. In my view, the Taliban are not the main drivers of conflict; and earlier periods, including the Soviet, the civil war and the Taliban eras, have been similarly misconstrued.

“Today, much of the violence is mischaracterised as ‘Taliban’ insurgent violence, when in fact it is not linked to the Taliban or the GIRoA, but is driven by local dynamics between groups and individuals on the ground. The Helmandis describe the conflict as *pshe-pshe*. This literally translates as ‘leg-leg’, but refers to the different legs of a tribe or clan (the English term would be ‘branch’). So, metaphorically, the phrase *pshe-pshe* means group-on-group warfare. It is a (micro) civil war….

“Currently, our ideas are largely based upon Maoist descriptions of insurgency; they highlight the importance of ideologies and organisation to motivate insurgents. The Army definition of an insurgency is ‘an organised, violent subversion used to effect or prevent political control, as a challenge to established authority’; it was from this that the ‘insurgency narrative’ was drawn.

“But this is not what took place in Helmand. The US and Britain were imposing a view of the war that bore little resemblance to the local understanding. The clearest example was the British ignoring Helmandis’ historical hatred (and related feelings of revenge) for them because it did not fit their understanding of the official narratives of the war. At the risk of over-quoting from the great Prussian master, they were trying to turn the war into something that it was not.

“These examples underscore the importance, when intervening in an internal war, of understanding the local politics – its actors, groups, narratives, feuds and alliances….”

from another article on sky news:

He [martin] catalogues in microscopic detail how first US Special Forces and then British troops were constantly manipulated by their Afghan allies into fighting on their side as part of local feuds and criminal enterprises that were only very dimly related to the ideology of being pro-government or pro-Taliban.

“Indeed, according to Dr Martin’s research, the two were often labels adopted by factions and warlords in need of material support from either the Nato forces or the Taliban.

Early allies of Nato, ahead of the British deployment, were warlords who stole vast tracts of lands from other clans and tribes and then used their alliance with US commandos as a military lever.

“‘The foreigners must like the *topak salaran* (warlords),’ Dr Martin quotes a local as saying.

“In 2008, while researching Desperate Glory, it was abundantly clear that British intelligence officers had only the sketchiest notion of who the ‘enemy’ in Helmand was.

“They did not appreciate the difference between long bloody engagements fought in the heart of the drug processing villages with the sudden evaporation of Taliban fighters in the face of large numbers of British troops.

“Nor that there was no inconsistency between being pro-government and pro-Taliban on any given day for a militia commander.

“Trucking contractors charged extra for ‘security’ and would then arrange for their convoys to be attacked.

“Drug barons, very often Afghan police, would contract Taliban militia to deliver their goods to market in government-held areas while Afghan troops were conducting anti-narcotics operations against their rivals.

“That is the way in Helmand – a rich agricultural landscape which has been riven by decades of conflict in which survival is the only form of victory.

“The buying of intelligence on alleged members of the Taliban by US forces meant a market developed in denunciations.

“Dr Martin wrote: ‘I repeatedly explored the issue of faulty intelligence driven by feuds and vendettas in 2011 and 2012.

“‘The attitude of those involved is perhaps best summed up by one of the more prominent militia commanders, who was still working with US Special Forces in 2012, when I asked him if there were still any feuds left over by the false targeting of the early days “All those sorts of problems are solved now”, he said, laughing, “they (the people we targeted) are all dead.”‘

“‘He said he could not work out why the United States was “so stupid”.’”

military intelligence, eh? =/

perhaps not surprisingly the british military has tried to stop the publication of martin’s book. he’s had to resign his commission in order to have it published.

previously: consanguineous marriage in afghanistan and kandahar vs. levittown

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

this is my response to jayman’s post of yesterday, Where HBD Chick’s Hypothesis Works. i was going to leave these thoughts in a comment to his post, but i quickly realized that my comment was going to be pretty long, so i figured i’d just make it a post here. i should just say at the outset that i agree with pretty much everything jayman had to say (^_^) — with a couple of minor quibbles — so this comment will mostly be me rambling about those, plus i’ll be throwing in a couple of “thoughts for future research.” you should definitely go read his post first if you haven’t already before reading my comments. pay attention to his map of how well the hypothesis works in different areas — it’s great! (^_^)

ok. jayman says:

“As we see, from what we know of historic mating patterns and behavior of people today, HBD Chick’s hypothesis works excellently across much of the world. This is especially true across Europe, the Middle East, and much of the Muslim world, and in China.”

yes. on several occasions i’ve wondered if this inbreeding/outbreeding idea really applies mainly, or only, to the indo-european world + the arabs. but the situation of china seems to fit well, too, so i think the general theory is probably more widely applicable (assuming for a sec that it’s correct at all — which it might not be). as i’ll argue below (one of my quibbles), i think the theory might also hold pretty well for japan although Further Research is RequiredTM. (actually, Further Research is RequiredTM for most areas of the world — especially lots of actual genetic/real scientific research!)

more from jayman:

“There are however a couple of places that don’t seem to fit as well. Most poignant of these is sub-Saharan Africa. HBD Chick’s hypothesis doesn’t cover much of Africa, especially the non-Muslim parts. It’s unclear if the historic mating among non-Muslim Blacks was particularly consanguineous (though it was, and remains in many places, polygynous). However, as we clearly know, sub-Saharans do behave like considerably clannish people in some ways, yet a lot more like typical outbreeders in other ways.”

even though i haven’t posted much about sub-saharan africa — yet! — i have been reading up and taking notes on the mating patterns of sub-saharans africans, and let me tell you — there are a LOT of sub-saharan african populations (tanzania alone has more than 120, or more than 260, ethnic groups depending on how you count them! whew!), so, as you can imagine, there is a wiiiide variety of mating patterns on the continent. if i were to make an off-the-cuff guess from what i’ve read so far, i’d estimate that maybe 40%-50% of sub-saharan populations currently practice cousin marriage or did in the recent past (none of them practice the really inbred fbd marriage type of the arabs — except for some northern muslim populations — and even they don’t marry their fbds as consistently as the arabs do). that is just a guess, though. and, then, there’s the polygamy, which also serves to narrow the genetic relatedness in populations, and, so, might trigger similar selection processes for “genes for clannishness” (whatever they might be). and polygamy seems to be very common throughout sub-saharan africa — it’s found almost everywhere (although not everyone can afford to practice it, of course).

the trick will be to try and reconstruct, if at all possible, the historic mating patterns of sub-saharan african populations, especially since historical records for the continent are few and far between. there are historic records for some sub-saharan populations, mainly dating from post-european contact times, of course, and many of them might be useful — a lot of missionaries were hobby ethnographers and recorded loads of cultural data about the people they hoped to convert. genetic data would no doubt be more useful still. (btw, see what i had to say about the mating patterns of african americans and the igbo of nigeria in the comments thread over on jayman’s blog.)

in jayman’s paragraph above, he referenced this old post of mine — civic societies ii — in which i pointed out that the sub-saharan africans surveyed in the world values survey are quite civic, i.e. they are frequently active in voluntary organizations, much more so than peoples in the middle east or eastern europe (see the charts in that previous post). that seems, to me, to be an outbred trait — at least it is very characteristic of northwest europeans. the bamileke of cameroon, too, have a lot of non-familial associations in their society, and they have probably avoided cousin marriage for at least a couple of hundred years.

seven sub-saharan african countries were included in those world value survey results (see this post) — burkina faso, ethiopia, ghana, mali, rwanda, south africa, and zambia — a selection which offers a fairly good regional spread around the continent. i should drill down into those world values survey results to see if i can find out more specifically which subgroups in those populations (if any in particular) were surveyed in each of the countries, and i should try to find out more about the historic mating patterns of those groups. there’s a plan for some future blogging right there!

from jayman again:

“However, farther south in Africa are the San hunter-gatherers (the Bushmen), who were intentional outbreeders, with marriage occurring across tribes. However, overall rates of violence among them are comparable to those found in their Bantu neighbors.”

ack! i still haven’t read more about the bushmen. put that down on the Further Research is RequiredTM list as well!

and this:

“Muslim Central Asia (including the Uyghur province) hasn’t been directly looked at by HBD Chick. But presumably mating patterns there have been similar to the rest of the Muslim world, which would seem to explain the levels of clannishness and corruption there.”

from what i’ve read, the central asians — especially in all of the -stans — tend to avoid any marriage within the paternal clan out to the seventh generation, so in that way they are very unlike the arabs and pakistanis and afghanis. father’s brother’s daughter (fbd) marriage really does seem to have stopped at the edges of the eighth century caliphate. in some regions of central asia, there is also an avoidance of close cousin marriage within the maternal line out to the third generation; in other places central asians do marry their first and second cousins in the maternal line — or have done until fairly recently. this fits with the broader preference of mother’s brother’s daughter (mbd) marriage in asia (where cousin marriage occurs). also, these patterns of avoiding marriage especially in the paternal line, and even sometimes in the maternal line, matches with at least some of the subgroups in tibet. as we saw the other day, first cousin marriage was commonplace in and around lhasa (at the very least) in the 1700s, but has disappeared since that time. perhaps close cousin marriage was also more common throughout central asia and has disappeared in more recent times — or is still in the process of disappearing. dunno. Further Research is RequiredTM.

“India and Southeast Asia also haven’t been discussed much by HBD Chick, either.”

india. *sigh* gotta love india (and indians!) for all of its anthropological diversity, but i have to admit that i have been avoiding india due to the complexity of the mating patterns there. all of those castes!! *sigh* the one very, very general broad pattern that i do know about india right now is that consanguineous marriages are more frequent in southern india than in the north (see the map on consang.net) AND a lot of those consanguineous marriages have been awfully close — uncle-niece marriage is common in southern india — up until very recently (there’s still quite a bit of uncle-niece marriage in the south nowadays, i believe). so, if the theory’s right, then (looking away from the muslims and christians and sikhs, etc., and just focusing on the hindus) there ought to be more clannishness and nepotism and corruption in southern india than in the north. i don’t know if that’s the case or not, but that ought to be how it is. the population ought to be more clannish in the south. similarly, there ought to be more clannishness/corruption/etc. in southern than in northern china — and i do know that clans are more important in southern china than in the north. again, need to try to reconstruct if close marriages were common historically in india and/or china — this should be easier for these populations than for africa since india and china are, obviously, literate civilizations and have been for many millennia.

southeast asia i just haven’t gotten around to yet, unfortunately.

“The Muslim sections of Southeast Asia fit the pattern seen with the core Muslim world, it would seem.”

yes and no. like the central asian muslims — and unlike the arabs/pakistanis/afghanis — the muslims of southeast asia probably avoid fbd marriage. it would be interesting to know if the population of aceh province in indonesia happens to practice particularly close marriage, though, since they have some of the strictest islamic codes of anywhere in indonesia.

jayman again:

“And the Papuan people of New Guinea are famous for being the most tribal people in the world, with the island hosting over *1,000* different languages!

like sub-saharan africans, png-ers have a wide variety of mating patterns! some groups absolutely, definitely have a preference for marrying close cousins while others outbreed. look for a post real soon on some apparent outbreeders from png — the baining!

more jayman!:

“Korea and especially Japan do not fit quite as seamlessly. Japan has had a history of cousin marriage, and the situation in Korea is unclear. Yet neither country is fractured into mutually distrustful clans as is China. Indeed, Japan has a functioning ‘commonweal’ society. However, it is not necessarily like the outbred Northwest Europeans either, possessing some characteristics of a clannish society [those are all unique links in this sentence-h.chick]. It is possible that these countries, like Finland & Iceland in Europe, are also ‘inbetweeners’ of sorts, and possess a distinct hybrid between clannish and non-clannish, as was the topic of my post Finland & Japan.”

yeah. can’t tell you anything at all about korea, because i still haven’t read up on korea yet! (except what misdreavus told me, which is that the upper classes in korea avoided close marriages. interesting.)

japan. yes, japan. japan is probably some sort of “inbetweener” group like jayman suggests — inbetweeners being not extremely inbred (like the arabs) but not being very outbred either (like northwest europeans). japan is apparently not as squeaky clean civic-wise as most of us think, although obviously the japanese are WAY more civically behaved than most peoples! if you look at anatoly karlin’s corruption reality index, the japanese actually score lower than most northwest europeans, and group together with bulgaria, croatia, france, and argentina, as far as corruption goes. and nearly as bad as italy! in 2010, nine percent of japanese people responded that they had to pay a bribe during the previous year, whereas zero percent of danes reported this, one percent of british people, two percent of germans, and five percent of americans. (meanwhile, eighty-nine percent of liberians did! and eighty-four percent of cambodians.) i also had a researcher tell me that, in a study which they conducted (not published yet, i don’t think), the japanese actually scored pretty low on interpersonal cooperation tests — which surprised these researchers. so, something is up with the japanese. they did marry close cousins at a pretty significant rate (ca. 22% — that’s roughly half the rate of sicilians in the early twentieth century) right up into the early twentieth century (see also here). so, i think that the japanese might actually fit the “clannishness” model more than is supposed. they don’t behave as clannishly as the chinese, but they are rather clannish.

jayman had this to say about the japanese and east asians — with which i heartily agree:

“The other possible ingredient could be this: local conditions – often imposed by the State or other local powers – may affect the course of evolution of a people despite the local frequencies of inbreeding/outbreeding. We see this to an extent in China, where considerable genetic pacification – under the direction of the State – served to reduce aggressiveness of the Chinese people despite their considerable clannishness. Perhaps this explains what we see in Japan.”

also this:

“As well, of course, the initial characteristics of the people in each of these areas may have some bearing on their outcomes today, as these traits may affect the precise course of evolution in these places.”

absolutely!

the other populations of the world that jayman mentions that i haven’t discussed (like australian aborigines) i just simply haven’t researched. yet! Further Research is RequiredTM! (^_^)
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i’m obviously not the first person to think that mating patterns + inclusive fitness might affect the selection of genes related to social behaviors. that would be william hamilton [pdf]. other population geneticists have played around with the idea, too. in the blogosphere, steve sailer was the first to connect cousin marriage with things like nepotism and an absence of (liberal) democracy in societies — after parapundit pointed out the odd connection between those things in the middle east. even saints augustine and thomas aquinas (and st. ambrose, btw) figured there was probably a connection between mating patterns and the structures and functioning of a society. so does the economist avner greif [pdf], although he doesn’t consider the biological side of it (which is completely ok!).

furthermore, the historian michael mitterauer — who specializes in the history of the european family — understands that there is some sort of connection between mating patterns and family types and size (and the functioning of society), although he doesn’t grasp that the explanation is probably biological either (which is completely ok!). (the more inbred the larger the family; the more outbred, the smaller — i think.) and all sorts of thinkers from engels to weber to durkheim to todd have figured out, in different ways, that family types and structures affect the workings of society.

so even if the specific inbreeding/outbreeding theory discussed on this blog is wrong, i think it’s valuable to examine the mating patterns and family types of human populations. who mates with whom — in other words, the ways genes flow through a population down through the generations — has got to be one of the more important topics in population genetics, afaics! and, at the very least, the prevalence of specific family types in populations must affect selection pressures, since families are a large part of the social environment in any society.

in any event, i just personally find all the different mating patterns and family types interesting! especially in the light of sociobiology. so i’m probably not going to stop blogging about them any time soon. don’t say i didn’t warn you! (~_^)

oh, and very importantly — thanks, jayman! (^_^)

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

so some people have asked me: what about the swiss then? why are they behaving so badly? are they just a bunch of clannish cuckoo clock makers or what?

first of all, everything’s relative. the results of the swiss referendum to curtail immigration were actually reeeally close — just 50.3% voted yes (that was out of a 55.8% voter participation rate) — so it's not like the vast majority of the swiss citizenry want to slow down immigration to their country. and we are only talking here about slowing down immigration to switzerland — the referendum was about reducing the number of people from the e.u. that will be allowed to migrate to switzerland in future — and they haven’t even agreed upon what they’re going to reduce it to yet — it was NOT about ending immigration altogether. nor have the meanie, meanie swiss decided to deport any current immigrants in switzerland or anything like that.

meanwhile, saudi arabia HAS deported 250,000 illegal immigrants in just the last three months — another two million have self-deported since last march when the saudi immigration laws changed — and the saudi government hopes to deport an additional two million over the course of the next year. (they’ve got something like nine million immigrants in the country.) the saudi government will also fine companies that do not meet quotas for hiring saudi citizens — businesses will have to pay a fine for each non-saudi employee they have over and above the number of saudi employees.

it’s hard to become a citizen of switzerland, of course — even non-swiss who are born and raised in the country have to apply for citizenship, and it’s usually the citizens of their respective cantons who vote on whether or not to give applicants citizenship — but it’s next to impossible to become a saudi arabian citizen if your family isn’t/ancestors weren’t saudi. and up until last year, the saudi government made it very difficult for non-saudis to marry saudi women — it’s still not very easy. not so in switzerland. some groups in saudi arabia don’t like and won’t marry — on principle! — other groups in saudi arabia. why the difference in attitude towards foreigners and outsiders in the two countries?

the gdps (the economists’ favorite metric) of the two countries are not all that different (in millions of u.s. dollars): saudi arabia=711,050 and switzerland=631,183 (note that the swiss get there without all that oil). so that’s probably not the problem. a little over 23% of the population in switzerland is comprised of immigrants — the number is ca. 30% for saudi arabia. perhaps the proportionally greater number of immigrants in saudi arabia accounts for the different reactions to immigration in the two countries, but i somehow doubt it. dunno. maybe it’s where the immigrants come from? in saudi arabia, they’ve mostly got immigrants from the indian subcontinent, yemen, and the phillippines. the largest immigrant groups in switzerland consist of people from italy, germany, the former yugoslavia/albania, portugal, and turkey (turks and kurds). so a larger number of immigrants in saudi arabia are from farther-flung places than those in switzerland, but, still, the saudis expelled 800,000 yemenis in the early 1990s, and how different can they be from saudi nationals?

no — there’s a difference in attitude toward foreigners between saudi arabia and switzerland that i think cannot be (completely) accounted for by economic circumstances or how foreign the foreigners are. the swiss want to slow down immigration to their country — the saudis don’t really like you marrying their women! the saudis, imho, are definitely muuuuch less universalistic (see here and here) in their thinking than the swiss.

buuuut the swiss seem maybe to be less universalistic than other western european groups. ‘sup with that? are they more inbred than other western europeans or what?

before i get to that, i should note that the french-speaking areas together with zurich did NOT vote for decreasing immigration as enthusiastically as the german- and italian-speaking regions (h/t daniel olsson! – map source [opens pdf]):

swiss referendum map 02

as mario on twitter pointed out, there are more immigrants in the french-speaking cantons and zurich (ca. 25% foreign born) than other areas of the country — from the telegraph:

“Interestingly, those areas with the most immigrants, and therefore with the most overcrowding, typically voted against the proposals.”

it could very well be that foreign born swiss citizens tended to vote against this proposal — someone ought to check. anecdata: i have a cousin who is a naturalized swiss citizen, and she voted against the proposal. (see? what do i keep saying? gotta be careful with letting in immigrants!)
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anyway…i have some notes on switzerland and the swiss, but don’t have a complete picture of the history of their mating patterns (yet). here’s what i’ve got so far…

in late antiquity, the gallic helvetii inhabited the swiss plateau — no idea what their mating patterns or social structures were like — and, of course, the romans were present. some people in switzerland were christians already by the early 300s a.d., but remember that the first of the church’s cousin marriage bans didn’t appear until the early 500s a.d.

with the collapse of rome, the burgundians moved into western switzerland and the alemanni into the north onto that plateau. again, don’t know anything specific about the mating patterns/social structures of either of these groups, but seeing as they were germanic populations, it’s likely that they had similar mating patterns/social structures to the other germanic groups: some amount of cousin marriage, residential nuclear families, and bilateral kindreds that were of import in everyday life and, most especially, in legal issues including wergeld payments and feuding (see the links under “germans” in the “mating patterns in europe series” below ↓ in left-hand column for more info).

the alemanni and burgundians were conquered by the franks in the early part of the sixth century, and presumably the franks would’ve tried to impose their ideas on marriage in their new dominions and/or the burgundians and alemanni might’ve wanted to imitate their new overlords. avoiding cousin marriage may not have been part of that package right away, though — recall that, although the church banned cousin marriage in 506 a.d., the frankish king didn’t issue a secular law banning cousin marriage until sometime in the 750s, but then by the 800s the franks thought it (heh) barbaric to marry even a second cousin (see this post). how well this law was enforced outside the frankish heartland in north/northeastern france — or if it even applied throughout all of the frankish kingdom(s) — i don’t know. i would think it likely that, whatever the case, the pressure to avoid cousin marriage would’ve been strongest in the core areas of the frankish kingdom(s) — austrasia and neustria in northern and northeastern france — since that’s where the practice really got going the earliest, and that the degrees of pressure and/or enforcement would’ve been weaker the farther one moved away from that core — but i could be wrong about that. additionally, the alpine regions of switzerland simply never would have experienced manorialism, a system in which enforcement of the cousin marriage bans was made easier (lords of the manor often had to approve marriages, plus there were typically churches/ecclesiastical-types attached to manors) and which pushed for nuclear family units.

fast-forward to the reformation (i told you i didn’t have the complete picture!) — one of the outcomes of the reformation was that many of the new protestant nations/churches reversed the catholic church’s cousin marriage bans — cousin marriage is not prohibited anywhere in the bible, so many of the reformers just threw the bans out (plus they were also disgusted with the church charging for dispensations as they were with the indulgences). however, in the 1500s (1530s), many cities and cantons in switzerland actually reinstated the cousin marriage bans — zurich, bern, basel, schaffenhaussen, saint gallen. geneva had never done away with them. the tide changed again, though, beginning in the 1600s, and over the course of the next couple hundred years, the bans on cousin marriage were gradually lifted. from “Kin Marriages: Trends and Interpretations from the Swiss Example” by jon mathiue in Kinship In Europe: Approaches to Long-Term Development, 1300-1900 (2007) [pgs. 214, 215, 224, and 216]:

“After an especially conservative phase in the late sixteenth century, the rolling back of the prohibitions emerged as the dominant trend, similar to that in the German lands….

“Thus, except for the canon rules, which for Catholics remained valid in their religious existence, the familial marriage prohibitions were rolled back three degrees over the course of 350 years….

Around 1500, one could only marry his fourth cousin; by 1900, first cousins were acceptable as marriage partners. The dispensations for forbidden kin marriages, documented in local and central records, show a parallel development. They increased practically everywhere, and especially in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, became a common occurrence….

“That the lawmakers repealed the restrictions despite every counterargument is thanks not just to the new relationship between state, church, and citizen, which had developed since the revolution. Earlier juristic practice had already had to take into consideration the values of the populace to some extent, and here it appears that large groups surmounted their aversion to kin marriages, because they were increasingly interested in marrying their kin.”

so, at the same time that the secular and canon laws against cousin marriage were being relaxed in the country, swiss roman catholics were, additionally, applying for greater numbers of dispensations from the church to marry cousins. here is table 11.1 from “Kin Marriages: Trends and Interpretations from the Swiss Example”. the number before the slash (/) in each instance is the percentage of marriages up to and including third cousins; the number after the slash, the percentage of marriages up to and including second cousins. you can see that there was a general increase in the percentage of first and second cousin marriages in all of the locales over the time period. of course, the rates don’t come anywhere near the rates of first and second cousin marriage in saudi arabia today (50%+), but the third cousin rates seem quite high to me [pg. 217 - click on table for LARGER views]:

switzerland - mathieu - table 11.1

by way of comparison, many of the first and second cousin marriage rates in the 1800s are higher than those for the same time period in southern england, and the third cousin marriage rates are MUCH higher. for southern england, the rates were: first cousins=2.2%, second cousins=1.7%, third cousins=2.2%. the swiss rates are more like rates seen in parts of scotland (see also the other rates in the table in that post).

an isonymic study (not as great as a genetics study, but hey — you work with what you’ve got) of a sample of 1.7 million swiss individuals conducted in 1994 found that (links added by me):

“…the highest consanguinity values were observed in the Grisons and in the nucleus of the founding Cantons [see map here - h.chick], while the lowest were observed in the Cantons of Geneva and Vaud, preferential areas of immigration to Switzerland from abroad…. French and Italian languages indicate minor, German and Romanisch major inbreeding.
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i said before in my post the radical reformation that my guess is that the swiss are some of western europe’s “inbetweeners” as far as outbreeding goes. i guessed that they probably got involved in The Outbreeding Project later than some other western europeans — the ones in and closer to the center of my “core” europe. and they didn’t experience manorialism either (unless some of them on the swiss plateau did?). the fact that the swiss were a bit late on the medieval reduction of internal violence in the country — as compared to the english, dutch, and belgians anyway — but were ahead of the italians on this score — is an indicator that they are inbetweeners, i think.

on reviewing the evidence that i’ve collected so far, what it in fact looks like is that, yes, the swiss may indeed have started outbreeding a bit late — possibly a bit later than the franks in the frankish heartland who were seriously outbreeding by the 800s — but, then, in addition to the late start, it looks like the swiss outbreeding project went into reverse in the 1600s. not extremely so — they didn’t resume marrying their cousins at rates that the arabs do today, or not even like the southern italians of the 1960s, but something along the lines of some of the scots in the 1800s.

so perhaps the swiss are inbetweeners BOTH because they started outbreeding a bit late (900s? 1000s?) AND because they resumed inbreeding again — somewhat — about four hundred years ago.

anyway…more on the swiss anon!

previously: more on mating patterns from deutschland (and switzerland) and the radical reformation

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some random notes on the history of mating patterns in china…

on the recommendation of john derbyshire, we have been listening to some of the great courses lectures here at home. that’s not the royal “we” by the way — i mean the d.h. and me. anyway…in From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History, the lecturer, kenneth hammond — an excellent lecturer and, incidentally, one of the kent 25 — mentions that during the southern song period (1127–1279) elites in china changed their marriage patterns. in the preceding northern song period (960-1127), the elites — the intelligensia and bureaucrats running the country — had a tendency to marry other elites from all over the kingdom. the bureaucrats — provincial administrators, for instance — would all meet up with some regularity in the capital at kaifeng and, when they were there, one of the things they’d do was to arrange their children’s marriages between their respective families. however, in the southern song period, the elites — according to the current paradigm of teh historians — began to marry much more locally. really locally, apparently — not on a national basis, and not even on a provincial basis, but within very local areas.

the first thing that came to my mind when i heard this was that it probably just reflects the general pattern in china of closer marriage in the south than in the north. my impression so far from the little i’ve read on the history of mating patterns in china — and it is so far just an impression, so don’t quote me on this! — is that there has been a greater amount of cousin marriage in southern china than in northern china (who knows for how long?) — and as a result, there is a greater importance of clans in southern china than in the north (which there definitely is). if this general pattern is true, then it’s perhaps not surprising that marriage amongst the elites became more local in the southern song period since we’re presumably talking about elites from the south. the general pattern (if it exists) would also fit with the “flatlanders vs. mountaineers” theory of inbreeding and outbreeding, since southern china is mountainous while the north has a nice big plain.

in Portrait of a Community: Society, Culture, and the Structures of Kinship in the Mulan River Valley (Fujian) from the Late Tang Through the Song (2007), hugh clark, after looking through the genealogies of the elites in this mulan river valley place in the southern province of fujian during the southern song period, has this to say about their marriage patterns [pgs. 134-135]:

[T]hese links point to a phenomenon called ‘patrilateral cross-cousin marriage’, a pattern of reoccurring affinal exchange in which sone of a union most often took the daughters of a maternal uncle as wives [mother's brother's daughter or mbd marriage - h.chick].

Such links, which were common in traditional Chinese culture, helped to cement ties between patrilines that could render all manner of mutual assistance, be it fiscal, political, or social, to their affines.”

so…there you go. i’ll be keepin’ my eye open for more info on all this!
_____

in The Elementary Structures of Kinship, claude lévi-strauss concluded that a preference for mother’s brother’s daughter (mbd) marriage had a long history in china. speaking of history, it’s been ages since i’ve read Elementary Structures, so i don’t recall exactly how lévi-strauss’ argument went, but apparently he based his conclusion on the kinship terms in the chinese language. lewis h. morgan thought similarly — that peoples categorize their relatives based upon which ones they were permitted to marry and which ones were forbidden to them. i happen to think this is correct. it’s not the only reason for why peoples name their relatives in the ways that they do, but it’s probably one of the main ones. thus the arabs have a pretty complicated naming system for all of their cousins, since marriage to some cousins (the father’s brother’s daughter or the bint ‘amm) is preferred. the chinese also have a complicated kinship terminology (but some of that is related to an age hierarchy/ancestor worship). most europeans, on the other hand, don’t differentiate between their cousins, since cousin marriage was banned for so long in europe. before the church’s cousin marriage bans, most (all?) europeans — especially northern europeans (the greeks are a bit of an exception in this story) — did name their cousins differently — the european naming system changed after the mating patterns changed — about three or four hundred years later in the case of the germans, for example.

anyway, i can’t quote lévi-strauss on mbd marriage in china for you, because i don’t have a copy of his book. but i can quote jack goody on lévi-strauss. from The Oriental, the Ancient and the Primitive: Systems of Marriage and the Family in the Pre-Industrial Societies of Eurasia (1990) [pg. 23]:

“Attempting a historical reconstruction which has some affinities with the parallel undertakings of L.H. Morgan (1870) and W.H.R. Rivers (1914), Levi-Strauss compares China with the Miwok of North America largely on the basis of terms for kin relationship and concludes his own study of China with words that reflect the earlier tendency to derive structure from terminology:

“‘We are thus brought to the hypothesis of the coexistence, in ancient China, of two kinship systems: the first, practised by the peasants, and based on a real or functional division into exogamous moieties, the exchange of sisters, and marriage between bilateral cross-cousins; the other, of feudal inspiration, and based on cycles of alliance between patrilineages (distributed or not into exogamous moieties), and marriage with the matrilateral cross-cousin and niece. That is, a system of restricted exchange and a system of generalized exchange.’ (1969:368-70)”

no idea if this theory bears any resemblance to reality, but it’s certainly interesting.
_____

finally, from Why Europe? (2010), here’s michael mitterauer on china [pgs. 83-85]:

“The quite substantial differences between Europe and China are more apparent if we take the terminology of relationship as a prime indicator of kinship systems. There is no Chinese counterpart to the parallelling process [i.e. naming paternal and maternal relatives the same - h.chick] discernible in Europe from antiquity on. Quite the opposite: an exceedingly complex system of kinship terminology was further differentiated and elaborated upon in China. Claude Levi-Strauss speaks in this connection of an ‘overdetermined system’ against which he counterposes the ‘marked tendency toward *indeterminism*’ in European cultures. Historical dictionaries from after the second century BC list no fewer than 340 Chinese terms for the different relationships between kinfolk. Typical examples of this differentiation are the terms for ‘uncle.’ The European languages have managed with one word since the great transformation in its terminology, whereas Chinese has five different words, depending on whether the father’s older brother (*bo*) is meant, or his younger brother (*shu*), the mother’s brother (*jiu*), the aunt’s spouse on the father’s side (*gufu*) or on the mother’s side (*yifu*). This example illustrates the four distinguishing criteria on which this terminology is by and large based: gender, relative age, the generation, and filiation. The strict separation of the paternal and maternal lines is particularly vital. A distinction is drawn in China and Tibet between ‘relatives of the bone’ and ‘relatives of the flesh’; it also is found in a larger area stretching from India to Siberia and embracing the Mongolian and Turkic peoples of Russia. What is meant by these forms are paternal and maternal relatives, respectively, with the former being given preference. As this example demonstrates, the terminological distinction between an older and a younger brother is made only in the patriline, a differentiation that the Chinese system of kinship shares with many cultures in its extensive surroundings. It occurs as far away as southern Europe, where Indo-European roots cannot even begin to explain this significant feature. In this case we might have to think about possible influences from the steppe nomads who came from the East….

“The traditional rules of marriage in China display the same basic outlines of a strict patrilineal ordering of kinship that is found in the terminology of kinship. From the Tang dynasty [618–907 ad - h.chick] on, legal codes prohibited marriage to a woman from four classes of relatives: first and foremost, marriage to women with the same surname, then to widows of members of the same household, to women of another generation of fairly close kinship on the mother’s side or by marriage, and finally to sisters from the same mothers by a different father (half-sisters). In China identical surnames meant in principle descent from the same patriline. The ban on marriage was valid even if the common ancestor was a long way back in the male line. The Chinese family held to these basic principles of exogamy, which can be found in many other cultures in Eurasia with an analogous kinship structure. In early medieval Europe, far-reaching rules concerning exogamy were also established, but they were confined to certain degrees of relatedness. They mainly concerned the paternal and maternal lines completely symmetrically. In China, on the other hand, the emphasis on the father’s line led to crass inequalities when it came to enlarging the list of banned female marriage partners…. Marrying relatives from the mother’s side was not forbidden in principle. In earlier times, marriage in China even between cross-cousins not only used to be permitted but was common practice. Among China’s neighbors it can be found up to this day as a preferred form of marriage.”

previously: abridged history of cousin marriage in china

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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… (^_^) )

still on vacation** (i know – it’s disgusting! (~_^) ) — but still reading! a bit.

i picked up this book (pub. 1969) in a used book store the other day (yes, an ACTUAL book store!). it includes a nice, although possbily out-of-date, summary of mating patterns/cousin marriage in native north american societies [pgs. 227-229 - links added by me]:

“COUSIN MARRIAGE

First-cousin marriage was permitted or perferred by a small minority of peoples….

“On the northern Northwest Coast, cross-cousin marriage was the preferred kind of union. If no first cross-cousin was available to a man, he chose a more remote cousin designated by the same word in the language. Among the Haida, a boy of ten years of age ideally went to live with his mother’s brother, who gave him his education in the lore of the sib as well as in practical matters. When the boy reached marriageable age, he ideally married his mother’s brother’s daughter and continued to live in the house of his mother’s brother. When the latter died, the boy, who was now the deceased’s son-in-law and also his sister’s son, inherited his house, land, and chattels as well as his social position and prestige. If no mother’s brother’s daughter was available to a young man, he might substitute a father’s sister’s daughter, who was designated by the same kinship term in the language….

“Among the Kaska, inland from the Northwest Coast, the only first cousin a man was permitted to marry was his mother’s brother’s daughter. This was the preferred marriage, although many men had to be content with cousins further removed or with unrelated wives. At Lake Teslin, between the Kaska and the coast, and among the Chipewyans farther east, a man could marry only his father’s sister’s daughter.

“Proceeding farther east to the Cree and Ojibwa, we find a different picture. Although marriages with both kinds of first cross-cousins were permitted, they were less frequent than those with more remote cousins. Double cross-cousin marriage sometimes occurred; a man married a woman who was both his mother’s brother’s daughter and his father’s sister’s daughter at the same time. This could happen only when two men in the older generation had exchanged their sisters, each marrying the other’s sister. The offspring from these unions would be double cross-cousins. Figures on the frequency of single cross-cousin marriage show that the mother’s brother’s daughter was married more often then the father’s sister’s daughter. The pattern of the Montagnais-Naskapi of the Labrador Peninsula was similar to that of the Cree and Ojibwa.

“In California and Oregon, cross-cousin marriage was permitted or perferred only by a small minority of tribelets, and in every case the mother’s brother’s daughter was singled out. In the Great Basin, cross-cousin marriage was permitted in a minority of localities but was nowhere the preferred form. In the Southwest, only the Walapai permitted a man to marry either variety of cross-cousin. The Maya of the Yucatan appear to have had both kinds of cross-cousin marriage at the time of first Spanish contact, although the evidence is indirect….

Parallel cousin marriage [like fbd marriage - h.chick] was tolerated in a very few localities, but was nowhere a preferred form.

complicating matters though:

“POLYGAMY…

The vast majority of North American peoples practiced polygyny. It was probably most frequent in the northern part of the Plains and Prairie areas…. Actual figures obtained from the records of priests among the Crees and Ojibwas indicate an incidence of polygyny in former times well over 20 per cent. Another area of common occurrence was the Northwest Coast. Although polygyny was limited to the wealthier class in this area, mainly because of the great amount of the bride price, it seems to have exceeded 20 per cent in many localities.

“Exclusive monogamy was the rule among the Iroquois and a few of their neighbors. This is to be expected in cultures in which matrilineal descent and matrilocal residence were coupled with female ownership and control of agricultural land and houses, not to mention the unusual authority of women in political affairs. Here the men literally moved in with their wives, who could divorce them merely by tossing their personal effects out of the door of the longhouse….”

ruh-roh! (~_^)

“The only other area where female dominance approached this level was that of the western Pueblos in the Southwest. Here the picture was similar, and exclusive monogamy prevailed. The other instances of exclusive monogamy were scattered and occurred in both bilateral and patrilineal societies. They do not lend themselves to any ready explanation.

“Sororal polygyny — that is, the marriage of a man to two wives who were sisters — probably occurred wherever polygyny was to be found. A number of Plains tribes had no other form. A man in this society was especially anxious to acquire an eldest sister as a first mate, with an eye on acquiring her younger sister if and when he could afford them…. [I]t is easy to see that polygyny had more utility in societies where male mortality in hunting and warfare was high. The Plains was one of these areas. Among the Eskimos, where a man had more difficulty in supporting multiple wives, the extremely high male mortality was offset by female infanticide. This partially explains the more modest amount of polygyny present in the Arctic.”

more on native north americans eventually! (^_^)

previously: mating patterns in colonial mexico: the mayans and the kato

**not hbd chick

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continuing on in the quest to find out the connection, if any, between inbreeding/outbreeding and topography (flatlanders vs. mountaineers), here is a map of the coefficients of inbreeding in france between 1926-1945 (based upon roman catholic cousin marriage rates) — the darker the shading, the greater the inbreeding…

france - coefficients of inbreeding (1926-1945)

…and here is a topographical map of france via wikipedia

france - map - topography

to me, it looks like the higher the elevation/more rugged the area, the greater the amount of inbreeding.

there’s also the history of the franks to take into consideration. as i’ve said previously, the franks in austrasia seem to have been the earliest population in europe to join in The Outbreeding Project of the church/tptb. and the regions of france with the lowest rates of inbreeding appear to be those that were once a part of austrasia — the earliest frankish kingdom — and those in neustria to the southwest, an area conquered by the franks in 486. swabia, too. also from wikipedia:

austrasia

that is all! (^_^)

previously: this one’s for g.w. and flatlanders vs. mountaineers revisited and meanwhile, in france… and going dutch and the auvergnat pashtuns

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

earlier this month, the inestimable peter frost wrote:

“Over the past millennium, Western Europeans have created a social environment where the individual is largely free from collective ties of kinship and ethnicity. Because the State has imposed a monopoly on the use of violence, there is less need to rely on kinsmen to safeguard one’s life and property. That’s what the government is for. In many other societies, however, the State is much more recent and often foreign. Collective identity still matters most and, when the chips are down, personal ties of friendship matter little. Your real friends are your ‘blood’.”

in The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (2011), steven pinker says that, in england, this process of the state taking over and monopolizing violence began during the reign of henry i, which lasted from 1100-1135 a.d. [kindle locations 1830-1839]:

“Feuding among knights and peasants was not just a nuisance but a lost opportunity. During Norman rule in England, some genius recognized the lucrative possibilities in nationalizing justice. For centuries the legal system had treated homicide as a tort: in lieu of vengeance, the victim’s family would demand a payment from the killer’s family, known as blood money or wergild (‘man-payment’; the *wer* is the same prefix as in *werewolf*, ‘man-wolf’). King Henry I redefined homicide as an offense against the state and its metonym, the crown. Murder cases were no longer *John Doe vs. Richard Roe*, but *The Crown vs. John Doe* (or later, in the United States, *The People vs. John Doe* or *The State of Michigan vs. John Doe*). The brilliance of the plan was that the wergild (often the offender’s entire assets, together with additional money rounded up from his family) went to the king instead of to the family of the victim. Justice was administered by roving courts that would periodically visit a locale and hear the accumulated cases. To ensure that all homicides were presented to the courts, each death was investigated by a local agent of the crown: the coroner.”

pinker cites daly and wilson (1988) on this who, in turn, cite hurnard (1969). there is also green (1972). see also The Aristocracy of Norman England (2002), pg. 243.

the only problem with this picture is, as was discussed on this blog in a previous post, there is good evidence that the kindred in anglo-saxon england — the importance of kinship, in other words — was already beginning to disappear (in southern england, anyway) in the early 900s, or maybe even the late 800s, a full two hundred years before henry i and his coroners showed up on the scene.

as i said in that post:

“the *gegildan* appears in some of the anglo-saxon laws in the late-800s as an *alternative* group of people to whom wergeld might be paid if the wronged individual had no kin. by the 900s, though, in southern england, the *gegildan* might be the only group that received wergeld, bypassing kin altogether.”

again, from Wage Labor and Guilds in Medieval Europe (1991) [pgs. 39-42]:

“The laws of King Alfred of Wessex, dated to 892-893 or a few years earlier, are more informative about the *gegildan*. Again, the context is murder and the wergild — the compensation required for the crime. By Alfred’s time, if not during Ine’s, the *gegildan* is clearly a group of associates who were not related by blood. The clearest example of this is in chapter 31 of the laws: ‘If a man in this position is slain — if he has no relatives (maternal or paternal) — half the wergild shall be paid to the king, and half to the *gegildan*.’ No information exists on the purpose of the *gegildan* other than its role as a substitute for kinship ties for those without any relatives. These associates, who presumably were bound together by an oath for mutual protection, if only to identify who was responsible, would benefit anyone, whether the person had relatives or not…. Although the evidence from the laws of Ine may be read either way, the *gegildan* seems to be an old social institution. As seen more clearly in the tenth and eleventh centuries, it acquired additional functions — a policing role and a religious character.

The nobles, clergy, and commoners of London agreed upon a series of regulations for the city, with the encouragement and approval of King Athelstan, who caused the rules to be set down some time in the late 920s or 930s. The primary purpose of these ordinances was to maintain peace and security in the city, and all those supporting these goals had solemnly pledged themselves to this *gegildan*. This type of inclusive guild, sometimes referred to as a peace guild, was an attempt to create one more additional level of social responsibility to support the king and his officials in keeping the peaces. This social group of every responsible person in London is a broad one, and the law does not use the term *gegildan* to describe the association in general….

“The idea of a guild to keep the peace was not limited to London, and a document from the late tenth century contains the rules and duties of the thegn’s guild in Cambridge. This guild appears to have been a private association, and no king or noble is mentioned as assenting to or encouraging this group. Most of the rules concern the principle purposes of this guild — the security of the members, which receives the most attention, and the spiritual benefits of membership itself. The guild performed the tasks of the old *gegildan*: the members were obliged to defend one another, collect the wergild, and take up vengeance against anyone refusing to pay compensation. The members also swore an oath of loyalty to each other, promising to bring the body of a deceased member to a chosen burial site and supply half the food for the funeral feast. For the first time, another category of help was made explicit — the guild bound itself to common almsgiving for departed members — and the oath of loyalty the members swore included both religious and secular affairs. Although in many respects this guild resembles a confraternity along the lines Hincmar established for the archdiocese of Rheims, the older purpose of the group — mutual protection with its necessary threat of vengeance — makes the Anglo-Saxon guild something more than a prayer meeting. To include almsgiving to members in distress would be a small step, given the scope of activities this guild established. There is no sign that the thegns cooperated in any economic endeavors, but older rules of rural society had already determined methods of sharing responsibility in the villages, and the thegns cooperated on everything that was important in their lives. The thegns of Cambridge had a guild that resembles in some important ways the communal oath, that will be discussed below, of some Italian cities in the next century.”

so, in england anyway, the individual didn’t become “largely free from collective ties of kinship and ethnicity” thanks to the state. anglo-saxon individuals were already on their way to becoming free from the collective ties of kinship before the state stepped in.
_____

pinker has a neat chart in Better Angels — Fig. 3.3 – Homicide rates in five Western European regions, 1300–2000:

pinker - fig. 3.3

as he says about england [kindle locations 1581-1584]:

“Once again we see a decline in annual homicide rates, and it is not small: from between 4 and 100 homicides per 100,000 people in the Middle Ages to around 0.8 (eight-tenths of a homicide) per 100,000 in the 1950s. The timing shows that the high medieval murder rates cannot be blamed on the social upheavals that followed the Black Death around 1350, because many of the estimates predated that epidemic.”

and [kindle locations 1599-1603]:

“Were the English unusual among Europeans in gradually refraining from murder? Eisner looked at other Western European countries for which criminologists had compiled homicide data. Figure 3–3 shows that the results were similar. Scandinavians needed a couple of additional centuries before they thought the better of killing each other, and Italians didn’t get serious about it until the 19th century. But by the 20th century the annual homicide rate of every Western European country had fallen into a narrow band centered on 1 per 100,000.”

i discussed this difference in the timing of the drop in homicide rates between various european countries in a previous post — outbreeding, self-control and lethal violence — in which i looked at manuel eisner’s paper, Modernization, Self‐Control and Lethal Violence. pinker also drew on eisner’s work for Better Angels. in that paper, eisner said:

“[T]he data suggest that the secular trajectories of low homicide rates differ among large geographic areas. It appears that English homicide rates were already considerably lower in the late sixteenth century than during the late Middle Ages and that they declined continuously along a log-linear trend over several centuries. Extant estimates for the Netherlands and Belgium suggest a very similar structure trend in these areas. In the Scandinavian countries, the transistion to the decreasing trend occurs notably later, namely in the first decades after 1600. Despite huge gaps in the data, the German-speaking areas may also be assumed to have joined the declining trend from the early seventeenth century onwards. For Italy, however, all the available data indicate that acts of individual-level lethal violence remained very frequent until the early nineteenth century. It is not until the mid-nineteenth century that the rate begins to decline, but then very steeply.”

and, as i said in my previous post:

“hmmmm. now where have i heard a pattern like this before? england, the netherlands, germans earliest in *some*thing … scandinavians later … italians last.”

that “something” that i was referring to is, of course, the avoidance of close cousin marriage — or The Outbreeding Project, as i like to call it. (i guess i should really call it The European Outbreeding Project or The Norwestern European Outbreeding Project.) the importance of kinship — extended families and kindreds — disappeared in large parts of northwestern europe, because northwest europeans quit marrying their close cousins, and the ties (including genetic) between individual northwest europeans and their extended family members simply loosened. loosened to the extent that, after several hundreds of years, extended families and kindreds just didn’t matter to people anymore. and, so, kindred-driven activities like feuding ceased and homicide rates decreased markedly.

the dutch — thanks to having been a part of frankish austrasia — and the southern english (especially the ones in kent) — thanks to being heavily influenced by the franks just across the channel — began avoiding cousin marriage very early in the medieval period, probably already in the 600-700s (see “mating patterns in europe series” below ↓ in left-hand column — also more on medieval england and france). the germans weren’t far behind, especially since the franks had so much influence in what would eventually become germany over the course of the medieval period (see the ostsiedlung). the scandinavians lagged behind since they were comparatively late in adopting christianity (and, therefore, in adopting the cousin marriage bans). and the italians were very late since they mostly did not have manorialism (which reinforced the cousin marriage bans). the italians, in fact — especially southern italians — kept marrying close cousins up until very recently.
_____

eisner offered several explanations — not necessarily mutually exclusive — for why homicide rates should’ve dropped so much in western europe over the course of the middle ages. one of the ones that steven pinker latched on to was the idea of the leviathan — the replacement of family feuds and compensation for killings with punishment (esp. execution) by the state. certainly there’s probably something to this — removing enough violent individuals from the gene pool could very well reduce the frequencies of “genes for violence” in a population in just one thousand years or so. (see also peter frost on rome – pdf.)

eisner also suggested another explanation, though, one that he drew from emile durkheim [pg. 632]:

Durkheim saw the decline of homicide rates as resulting from the liberation of the individual from collective bonds rather than as the consequence of the coercive potential of the state. High levels of lethal violence thus mirror the intensity of ‘collective emotions’, which bind the individual to ‘groups of things that symbolically represent these groups’. Violence thus declines to the degree that the person becomes liberated from its sacred obligation to the group, and the rise of moral individualism brings about both subjective reflexivity and emotional indifference in conflict situations (Durkheim 1957: 115).”

replace “liberated from its sacred obligation to the group” with “more and more outbred” and you’ve got a nice, little sociobiological theory there!

“This theoretical approach offers valuable insights into the historical patterns of declining homicide rates. First, the Durkheimian argument offers a theoretical framework for understanding the multifarious cultural meanings of violence in medieval society. Much empirical research on the topic emphasizes the crucial role of insults in triggering situational conflicts. This is in accordance with a society in which ‘honour’ constitutes highly important social capital of the male person as a representative of his group. It requires retributive violence as a potential and culturally accepted means for maintaining one’s honour. Such a theoretical framework may help to better understand why the secular decline in homicide rates primarily seems to have been due to a decrease in male-to-male fights. And it may also offer a point of departure for understanding the high violence rates in italy, where a culture of honour persisted despite the early development of administrative and judicial structures in the city states.

in anglo-saxon england, then, the kinship groups and their “culture of honor” (feuds, etc.) declined before the state got involved in safeguarding the lives of individuals. meanwhile, in medieval italy, the culture of honor persisted despite the presence of states that punished violent offenders. the difference, of course, is that italy — especially southern italy — barely ever joined in The Outbreeding Project, whereas england was one of its leading nations.

previously: the importance of the kindred in anglo-saxon society and outbreeding, self-control and lethal violence and what pinker missed and more on genetics and the historical decline of violence and clannishness defined

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