clans in the news

i like to keep an eye out for clan/tribal stories on google news. here are some of the more fun ones i came across lately:

Tunisian clan fighting injures 18
May 14, 2012

TUNIS: Violent clashes between rival clans in Tunisia have left 18 people injured, one of them seriously, the TAP agency reported on Monday.

The clashes occurred Sunday night and Monday morning in the Feriana region in the centre-west of the north African country and erupted over a dispute over iron trafficking from neighbouring Algeria, according to the interior ministry.

Police and the army intervened to stop the fighting, it said.

Violent, sometimes deadly clan clashes are common in areas of Tunisia bordering Libya in the east and Algeria in the west where trafficking of arms and other goods is common.

tunisia is full of mostly berbery-araby people, so these aren’t any crazy tuaregs or anything. these are just some of your typical tunisians behaving in a typically clannish way. tunisians marry their cousins, of course — 2009 consanguinity rate=24.8%.

meanwhile: Tunisian ex-ruling clan member loses fight for Canadian residency, seeks refugee status

Over 150 Families in Ingushetia Give Up Vendetta – Leader

A special reconciliation commission in Ingushetia has prevented vendetta conflicts between 150 families over 42 months, the leader of the Russian Islam-dominated republic in the Caucasus said on Sunday.

At a meeting with religious and public figures in the capital Magas, Ingush leader Yunus-Bek Yevkurov praised the efforts of the commission set up at his initiative to resolve disputed issues and conflicts between Ingush families and consolidate society.

“Thanks to the mercy of the Almighty and the shared efforts of the commission and the PR department of the republic’s administration, we have settled a vast number of conflicts between teips [clans],” he said. “We have reconciled over 150 vendetta families.”

He also paid tribute to the council of teips and proposed involving female public organizations in the process.

traditionally, the ingush married outside the clan but within the (broader) tribe (see also here) — dunno how much they’re still doing that nowadays — so that’s a rather endogamous but not an inbred mating pattern. they’re not marrying their father’s brother’s daughters.

Bo Xilai’s Clan Links
April 23, 2012

Extended family members of Bo, then commerce minister and now ousted Chongqing Communist Party boss, have also had positions in such firms as alternative-energy company China Everbright International Ltd. (257), according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

While the accumulation of influence is commonplace among relatives of politicians worldwide, the Bo family fortune of at least $136 million may fuel perceptions of corruption in the Communist Party and deepen social tensions over China’s widening wealth gap. The party has sought to cordon off from politics the investigations of Bo and his second wife, arrested on suspicion of murder, with an official commentary stating that the inquiry is solely a matter of law.

“The danger for them, the Chinese, is that the whole of the Politburo and their Central Committee colleagues will be exposed as a new property-owning class,” said Roderick MacFarquhar, a Harvard University professor who focuses on Chinese politics. “It’s already got out of hand. The problem for the regime is that it is now out in the public sphere….”

to be honest, i couldn’t figure out who all the bo-extended-family members were that were mentioned in this article: there are sons and brothers and second wives and i don’t know who. maybe one evening i’ll sit down and try to work it out. bo xilai, though, is one of today’s “princelings” of china. and we know that for literally millennia the chinese have been cousin-marrying/marrying endogamously, and that they still have a clannish society today, so it’s not very surprising to find out that the extended families of communist party leaders in china are reaping the benefits of such a connection in very big ways.

and some more news on chinese clans:

Hainan clan elections set to be heated affair
May 17, 2012

Sparks look set to fly this weekend, as two long-time arch rivals go head-to-head in the Hainanese clan association elections….

chinese clan associations, or kongsi, are: “…benevolent organizations of popular origin found among overseas Chinese communities for individuals with the same surname. This type of social practice arose, it is held, several centuries ago in China…. In the Chinese spirit, derived in large part from Confucian ideals, these kongsi members or their descendants prefer not to boast so much of their wealth but to take pride in earning worldly and financial success through their work ethic and the combined efforts of many individuals devoted to group welfare.”

Jaafar Clan Kidnaps Syrian Opposition Members in Retaliation to their Abduction of Family Member

Members of the Free Syrian Army abducted overnight two Lebanese citizens and a Syrian national, reported Voice of Lebanon radio on Saturday.

Khodr Hussein Jaafar, Ahmed Medlij, and Syrian Abdullah al-Zein were kidnapped for their alleged role in persecuting Syrian opposition members in Syria, reported the daily al-Mustaqbal on Saturday.

The Jaafar clan retaliated by abducting some 50 members of the opposition in the Syrian border towns of Zeita and al-Burhaniyeh, it added….

seems like everyone has since been released.

clans know no boundaries. sounds like the jaafar clan knows how to take care of business. clans/tribes and cousin marriage are important in syria — and in neighboring lebanon, too.

(note: comments do not require an email. cute penguin alert!)


  1. Re China: it’s not just clans and kongsi but guanxi and tongs: different kinds of human capital than what we are used to.

    About the clans: in China they practice clan exogamy. Males have to marry outside their own clan. Therefore females do to. So how does that lead to in-breeding? Are there pairs of clans (or limited combinations) that regularly intermarry? The Mongul-related steppe tribes did that I just read, but I’m not aware the Han ever did much. How does it work.


  2. @luke – i was just reading about tongs. (^_^)

    @luke – “in China they practice clan exogamy. Males have to marry outside their own clan.”

    they have to marry outside of their patrilineal clan, i.e. not someone with the same surname as themselves. so there is (or maybe was) a strong tendency, at least in some regions, to marry one’s mother’s brother’s daughter. that’s still your first cousin, so that’s still inbreeding. but somehow it’s less inbreeding than the arabic father’s brother’s daughter marriage which is all in one (patri-)lineage. i haven’t quite put my finger on what the genetic differences must be, but intuitively i can see that the one (fbd) is more inbred than the other (mbd).

    @luke – “Are there pairs of clans (or limited combinations) that regularly intermarry? The Mongul-related steppe tribes did that I just read, but I’m not aware the Han ever did much. How does it work.”

    i don’t know if that was ever the case with the han chinese or not, but i have heard of it, yes. you get two or more — many, in fact — clans involved and every generation you just swap brides in one direction — or maybe multiple directions, i dunno. it winds up looking something like this.

    in effect what you get is something in between the crazy hyper-inbred arab tribes and the almost completely outbred europeans. you get big clan networks with lots more people involved in the network than in arab groups. but they’re still relatively closed networks, genetically speaking, compared to what nw europeans have been getting up to for the last 1600 years or so.

    i mentioned this somewhere before that i have the impression that inbreeding and clannishness has been stronger in southern china than in northern china, at least over the last few hundred years anyway. read that again this evening, so i think that is the broad pattern we’re looking at for china.


  3. @hbd chick “these are just some of your typical tunisians behaving in a typically clannish way. tunisians marry their cousins, of course — 2009 consanguinity rate=24.8%.” Alas we will get there. Birth rate began to fall about 1964 in Tunesia and has leveled off at about replacement with the usual biological clocks slowing and the marriage age rising as usual. You’d think that high consanguinity rate would be sufficient. Maybe not.
    We’ll get there, of course. There is no longer a majority of any sort in the US, so those with the babies will get the power. Those that have consanguinity will have the babies. The losers may not continue to be very polite about it.
    And it can all be fixed. Nobody has to lose.


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